The Butler baseball team got its conference season started on the right foot by taking two of three games against Valparaiso last Friday and Saturday. The Bulldogs (9-10, 2-1 HL) will look to continue their winning ways against Wabash today and Milwaukee over the weekend.
Butler closed out the three-game series against Valparaiso by posting a double digit run total for the first time since March 13 and beating the Crusaders (3-19, 1-2 HL) in the second game of a doubleheader, 14-7.
“It’s always nice to win a series,” head coach Steve Farley said. “It’s a good compliment for our team when we can bounce back after a tough loss.”
Butler used a big fourth inning to blow the game open. With two outs in the frame, the Bulldogs strung together five consecutive hits to bring home five of the nine runs they tallied in the inning.
With a run already in and two more runners on base, senior right fielder Corey Moylan singled to drive in junior shortstop Griffin Richeson. Senior third baseman Grant Fillipitch followed Moylan’s single with an RBI double which tied the game at 4.
The big blow came from the next batter, senior catcher Michael Letzter, who smacked a three-run home run over the left field fence to put Butler up 7-4.
An RBI double from junior first baseman Mike Hoscheit and a two-run double from pinch hitting sophomore Pat Gelwicks capped the inning for the Bulldogs, who sent 13 hitters to the plate in the frame and turned a 4-1 deficit into a 10-4 lead.
“I went up looking for a good fastball to hit,” Hoscheit said. “Everyone hit well and it was a good performance by the team.”
Butler tacked on three more runs in the fifth inning and a single tally in the 9th while holding the Crusaders to just three runs over the game’s final five innings.
The Bulldogs’ offense was led by Hoscheit, who went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI’s and runs, and Moylan, who also had three hits in five plate appearances, driving home one run and scoring twice. Richeson had a solid day at the plate for Butler as well, going 2-for-4 with three runs, making up for his three errors in the field.
Junior Mike Hernandez picked up his second victory of the season for the Bulldogs. Hernandez pitched seven innings, giving up six runs (five earned) on six hits with five strikeouts over 111 pitches.
“I felt really good,” Hernandez said. “All three starting pitchers [in the series] did well, the defense supported us, we got big hits and the bullpen shut it down in the second game.”
In game one of the doubleheader, Butler squandered an opportunity to tie the score in the eighth inning. It cost the Bulldogs, as Valparaiso posted six runs in the ninth inning to capture a 12-5 win.
Both squads were held hitless until the fourth inning, when the Bulldogs and the Crusaders both scored twice. Valparaiso then scored two more runs in both the fifth and seventh innings while Butler tallied three runs in the sixth inning.
Down 6-5 entering the bottom of the eighth inning, the Bulldogs’ offense quickly got in business when sophomore center-fielder Andrew Eckhardt tripled to open the frame.
Eckhardt was left stranded on third base, however, and the Crusaders would go on to score six times in the ninth inning.
Senior catcher Corey Thibault had an impressive day at the dish for Valparaiso, going 2-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI’s. Junior left fielder Steven Scoby had three hits and three RBI’s for the Crusaders in the win.
Senior Damon McCormick pitched six innings to pick up the victory for Valparaiso. Senior Justin Frane was strong out of the bullpen for the Crusaders, pitching three scoreless innings and allowing a single hit.
Butler used five runs over the sixth and seventh innings as well as a seven-inning, two-run pitching performance from senior Dom Silvestri to win the first game of the 3-game series by a score of 6-2.
The series win put the Bulldogs into a tie for second place with Wright State in the Horizon League and a game behind UIC for the conference lead.
“UIC and Wright State stand out, and Milwaukee is always tough,” Farley said. “All three of them are always at the top.”
Butler’s first contest off a 3-4 trip in Florida was a 15-3 loss at Indiana St. on March 23.
The Bulldogs will welcome Wabash to Bulldog Park today before continuing the conference season with three games in Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday.