You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Life has been full of victories, losses for Bender

For Dayton Dragons reliever Joel Bender, 2010 was the best of times — and the very worst.

That year the Delhi Township native graduated from Oak Hills High School near Cincinnati, was drafted by the team he adored as a kid — the Cincinnati Reds, in the 27th round — and accepted an offer to pitch at the University of Louisville. But his life tumbled after his father died of cancer in December.

His dad owned a popular bar along the skywalk in Cincinnati that ran from downtown to Riverfront Stadium. His childhood home was adorned with the Reds logo. Unable to pass on signing with his hometown team, Bender eschewed college and agreed to a contract with the Reds, something his father was able to witness prior to his death.

“He owned that bar and knew everybody,” Bender said. “The players used to come in after games. He was always around the game and that’s how he raised me. Being here with the Reds and in Dayton probably means a lot more to me than it would anybody else.”

The road to the majors has continued to be rough. Bender began the season in Dayton, but after posting an ERA over six, he was demoted to extended spring training in Arizona. Making matters worse was another loss — his uncle died this year.

But the affable Bender has found a respite on the mound. He returned to Dayton and has become the core of the bullpen along with fellow relievers Tony Amezcua and Alejandro Chacin. What could have been a weakness for Dayton due to promotions, demotions and injuries has been steady. As a result, Bender was named Dragons pitcher of the month for July after going 4-0 with a 3.38 ERA in 10 relief appearances. For the year he is 4-2 with 4.28 ERA with one save.

Dayton manager Jose Nieves has been impressed with his performance on the mound and dealing with the adversity in his life.

“Someone so young, they can be devastated losing two loved ones in such a short period of time,” Nieves said. “When this happens to a player, you want to make sure they are all right emotionally. But he’s handled it very well and been professional, but we want them to know that if they need to talk we are all here.”

Bender is a left-hander with a 90-mph fastball. After his promotion back to Dayton, he returned with an improved change-up and more velocity. He hopes the improvements continue long enough for that kid from Delhi Township to take the mound at Great American Ball Park.

“I was born and raised a Reds fan,” Bender said. “Every little kid in that town is going to wear that hat. My first time in spring training, I got to be around all these guys I watched every night on television for years. If I ever pitch on that mound, it will be indescribable.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Springfield’s Davis D-I first team All-Ohio
Springfield’s Davis D-I first team All-Ohio

Springfield High School senior Danny Davis was named Division I first team All-Ohio and Kaleb Wesson of Westerville South was chosen Ohio Mr. Basketball by the Associated Press on Wednesday. A four-year starter, Davis had the best of those four years as a senior. The 6-foot-3 guard led Springfield in most offensive categories, averaging a team-high...
Boys D-I All-Ohio basketball teams
Boys D-I All-Ohio basketball teams

The following are the Division I boys high school basketball All-Ohio teams, released by the Associated Press on Wednesday. Selections were based on district teams from throughout the state that were chosen by media panels. Players were nominated by coaches. Divisions II and III were announced on Tuesday and D-IV on Monday. First Team: Kaleb Wesson...
Dayton Flyers recruit leads team to state semifinals in Minnesota
Dayton Flyers recruit leads team to state semifinals in Minnesota

Dayton Flyers recruit McKinley Wright scored 30 points to lead Champlin Park High School to the semifinals of the Class 4A tournament in Minnesota on Wednesday. Wright, one of five recruits in Dayton’s 2017 class, made 13 of 25 shots from the field and had eight rebounds, but it took a crazy last-second shot by teammate Sam Dubois, after a miss...
Prosecutor on Bengals Adam Jones: No felony ‘just drunken foolishness’
Prosecutor on Bengals Adam Jones: No felony ‘just drunken foolishness’

Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters announced Wednesday he was dropping a felony charge against Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones and is suggesting the city of Cincinnati dismiss the three misdemeanor charges as well. Jones, 33, was arrested Jan. 3 in downtown Cincinnati and charged with assault, disorderly conduct and obstructing official...
Kenton Ridge softball has holes to fill, but returns all-state pitcher
Kenton Ridge softball has holes to fill, but returns all-state pitcher

Eighth-year Kenton Ridge softball coach Sarah Schalnat has to replace her entire infield from last season and lost a pair of .400 hitters from a potent lineup, which means the rest of the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Division may close the gap on the Cougars, who have won four straight crowns. But maybe not. Schalnat still has one of the best...
More Stories