CENTERVILLE – Winning big games often comes down to doing the little
things right. That was more than true Thursday
evening when Northmont scored a 6-4 victory over the No. 8 ranked team in the state, Vandalia-Butler, in the sectional final
at Centerville High School.
game was deadlocked 4-4 after 7 innings, but in the top of the 8th
Northmont got the job done by playing ‘small ball.’
Leadoff hitter Michael Hale got hit by a pitch and Ben Mangen laid down a bunt. Butler pitcher Mitch Gremling fielded the
bunt but threw wild to first base. Hale scored all the way from first and Mangen ended up at third.
Brenden Jewsikow lined out to first, Northmont Coach Chuck Harlow
called for a suicide squeeze play. Mangen broke
for home on the pitch and Brandt Cronebach laid down a bunt to give Northmont its second run of the inning and a 6-4 lead.
knew it was going to come down to a bunt. When you get into these kinds
of games that’s what it takes to win, and
sure enough it happened,” said Harlow. “Teams are going to bunt and when you make a mistake they are going to take
advantage of it from this point on in the tournament.”
the victory the Thunderbolts advance to district play Saturday at
Cincinnati Western Hills against Lakota West.
Game time is 1 p.m. Northmont improved to 19-11 while the Aviators ended their highly successful 2015 season at 22-6.
Ben Mangen pitched 6 innings, struck out 6, scattered five hits and
issued 5 walks. Matt Pfeffer pitched the
final two innings and surrendered two hits and struck out two to preserve the win.
Mangen is tough on right hand hitters, but he is really tough on left
hand hitters,” Harlow noted, which is why he started
the big left hander against the Aviators lineup of mostly left handed hitters. “I’m biased. I think he is the best pitcher in the
scrapped,” Harlow added. “I think Butler is a great team. Trent (Dues)
does a great job. There’s a reason they
are ranked No. 8 in the state. They started strong and have done good all year. It was a thrill to play them and it was a thrill
to win today, that’s for sure.”
Gremling pitched a strong game for Butler. In eight innings he scattered eight hits, struck out seven, had no walks, but hit
took an early 1-0 lead on a single by leadoff hitter Greg Peffley.
Tanner Lee laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance
Peffley to second and then reached third on a single by Michael Hale. Ben Mangen struck out but Hale stole second on the
third strike. Butler tried to throw Hale out at second and Peffley raced home with the Thunderbolts first run.
tied the game in the bottom of the first. Damon Due drew a walk and
stole second. Tyler Burley also walked and Dusty
Lewis laid down a sacrifice bunt. Mangen pounced on the bunt but threw wild to third allowing Due to score to make it a 1-1
The Aviators took a 2-1 lead in the second inning
when Alex Murphy singled and stole second. Torin Fletcher drew a walk
Noah Ballard put down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners. Murphy scored from third on a ground out to short by Dues.
got three runs in the top of the 5th inning to take a 4-2 lead. Kyle
Craddick led off with a single up the middle and
advanced to second on a bunt single by Zach Kirby. Peffley also laid down a bunt but the throw to first sailed down the right
field line allowing Craddick and Kirby to score. Peffley later scored on wild pitch.
tied the game 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth. Spencer Sarsgard reached
base on a wild throw to first by Peffley allowing
Sarsgard to motor in safe at second. Fletcher reached base on a bunt single with Sarsgard advancing to third. Dues singled to
drive-in both runners.
Ron Nunnari can be reached at 684-9124, via email [email protected] or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind.
VANDALIA - Inclement weather forced Wednesday's rematch against Sidney to be played at Butler, with the Aviators acting as
the visiting team. Butler however looked right at home, surging past the Yellow Jackets for another convincing 8-3 win.
Just as they did two days earlier, Sidney jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Butler bats were awakened
an inning later, with the Aviators plating three runs to take a 3-2 lead. Butler would add an additional five runs in the fourth and
fifth innings to put the game away as the heavy rains set in.
Junior pitcher Mitch Gremling (2-0) earned his second win of the year, working five complete while striking out three.
Offensively for Butler Junior Chandler Craine had double and three RBI. Sophomore Damon Dues
had two hits and two RBI, while
senior Spencer Sarsgard had a double.
With the win, Butler improves to 5-2, 2-0 on the season. The Aviators return to action on Friday, playing host to Springfield at
MYRTLE BEACH, SC - Despite another fast start offensively, the Aviators were unable to come away with a road win Tuesday
afternoon versus Herndon (VA), falling to the Hornets 7-4.
Playing at Pelican's Ballpark, home to the A-Class Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Aviators jumped out to an early 2-0 lead.
Junior Chandler Craine's RBI single and a timely fielding error by the Herndon second baseman gave Butler a two score
The Hornets batters answered, plating five runs over the next two innings, taking a lead that they would not relent.
Offensively Butler was paced by sophomore Tyler Burley who went 2-for-4 at the plate with a run and an RBI. Sophomore
Matt Grossman and the aforementioned Craine each added RBI's in the losing effort.
Senior Alex Murphy and sophomore Zach Crawford combined on the mound for six strikeouts, and allowed just four earned
runs. The Aviators will put this loss behind them and return to action Wednesday afternoon, facing off against the Knights
of Pittsford Sutherland (NY). The opening pitch is slated for 12:00 PM.
VANDALIA - The Aviator hardballers hope to reap the dividends of
playing with a lot of youth last year.
For Butler the
experience starts on the mound, where a number of underclassmen notched valuable innings of work last season.
Butler returns pitchers , senior Alex Murphy (6.56 ERA), juniors
Mitch Gremling (3.25), Carson Schumann (3.20),
left-hander Dalton Gaskins (2.80), and sophomores Zach Crawford (5.91), Gavin Kohler 4.50), Nathan Stogdill (4.07) and
Dylan Welch (4.67)
All eight got time on
the varsity bump last spring, experience which head coach Trent Dues hopes will
go a long way in
2015. "Hopefully the experience from last year will pay off" ,said Dues. They, along with sophomores Ryan Townsend
and Tyler Burley, will be vying for innings this season for Butler.
Behind the plate, Senior Ben Slaton (.235 batting average)
returns as well as converted infielder junior Noah Ballard.
Senior Jacob Burton will provide additional depth at the catcher position.
The Aviators return the bulk of the infield from a year ago. Junior first baseman Chandler Craine (.333)
having a productive season both at the plate and at first base in 2014. Junior Dusty Lewis (.288) returns at second
base. After a slow start last spring, Lewis settled in offensively and defensively towards the end of the season, finishing
Sophomore Damon Dues (.376) started all 27 games at
shortstop, doing an admirable job offensively and defensively,
leading the team in stolen bases, OBP, runs and walks. Fellow sophomores Matt Grossman and Tyler Burley look to man
the “hot corner” at third base. Senior Jacob Burton and junior Torin Fletcher will provide depth in the infield. Burley,
Gremling, Schumann, and Gaskins will provide depth at first base as needed.
Looking to replace center-fielder Jacob Naas is junior
Torin Fletcher. Fletcher can cover a lot
of ground with good
athleticism and a strong arm. Returning at the corner outfield spots are senior Alex Murphy (.316) and junior Nic Martin
(.418). Martin and Murphy both bring good sticks to the lineup and good athleticism to both left and right field. Martin’s
batting average of .418 led the team in 2014.
Senior Spencer Sarsgard looks to return to form from his
sophomore season after being hampered with a back issue for
most of last year. Gaskins, Burley, Ballard, and Slaton provide depth in the outfield for Butler.
In spite of being one of the younger Butler teams of record,
Dues likes the potential that he has seen with this group.
"This team seems to have good chemistry and a very good work ethic", said Dues. Time will tell as to who steps to the
forefront based on who swings the bat and can also fall into the puzzle defensively."
The Aviators open the 2015 season on Saturday, March 28th at 1:00 PM versus Coldwater at the University of Dayton.