By: Darrell Wacker
Vandalia Drummer News
HAMILTON — In a season of ups and downs, the Butler baseball team saved their best for last. The Aviators won 9 of their last 12 games including an upset of top-seed Springboro in the District semifinal.
Their hot finish came to an end on Sunday at Hamilton High School as the Aviators fell 6-2 to the Moeller Crusaders. The win left the Aviators with an overall record of 18-12.
Shorthanded due to injuries and with a relatively young team to begin with, Butler’s freshman battery of catcher of Boston Smith and pitcher Quinton Hall didn’t flinch against one of the state’s traditional baseball powers.
“We were shorthanded on the mound, but Quinton (Hall) did a great job, Caiden (Serrer) came in and we battled,” said head coach Trent Dues. “They have a good squad and they are a tough team to beat but we were right there. When you play a team like this all you can do is ask for an opportunity to win and we had those opportunities at times.”
After giving up a run in the first inning, Butler bounced back, however and answered with runs in both the first and second innings for a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the first, Dolen Fults took a lead-off walk and advanced to second when a bunt by Boston Smith was misplayed. Smith and Fults were advanced on a bunt by Preston Tofstad, and Butler tied the game on a sacrifice fly by Jake DeMoss.
Walks were pivotal in the second inning as Carson Clark and Evan McKinney both received a free pass. A single by Fults loaded the bases on a single to short right field, and then Boston Smith took another walk to drive in Butler’s second run.
With only one out, the Aviators were set up for a big inning, but a strikeout and miscommunication on the base paths quelled the potential rally.
“We had a couple of opportunities and didn’t capitalize,” said Dues. “
Moeller scored three runs in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead, added another in the fifth, and then added an insurance run in the top of the seventh to set the final score.
“We really improved as a team as the season went on and I have nothing but respect for our guys,” said Dues.
“We really stuck together. We didn’t win the league title but these guys wanted to make a tournament run and they made some noise. It’s very difficult when you are a small Division I school and can play schools three times your size, but that’s the cards we are dealt and we have to figure out how to make that work.”
After a mid-season four game losing streak that included a sweep by Troy, and a season-ending injury to their top pitcher, Braedon Norman, the Aviators rallied to end the season, something Dues is especially proud of.
“I give these guys respect for sticking with it and not quitting,” Dues said. “They know how to play the game, they listen, are coachable, and play hard. When you do that, you have a chance. That’s all you can ask of them. We are what we are, but it wasn’t good enough today.”
VANDALIA - Two years ago Tecumseh marched into Vandalia and shocked the 22-3 Aviators, knocking them out of the tournament in a stunning 4-3 upset.
In their first meeting since that fateful day, the Arrows and Aviators once again faced off for a Sectional Championship in front of an overflow crowd Thursday afternoon.
An early 1-0 Arrows' lead created a clamor amongst the large contingent of Tecumseh fans lining the first base side of the field, but the hopes of a second straight upset came crashing with a thud as Butler cruised to an 11-1 run-rule win.
"This was a great win," said an exuberant Trent Dues following the victory. "The first few innings were tight and then we made some things happen."
After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the second, the Aviators tied the game in the third inning on a Dolen Fults triple, scoring fellow senior Evan McKinney.
A batter later, freshman Boston Smith hit an RBI sac-fly, scoring Fults from third for a 2-1 lead.
That lit the fuse, and the Aviators exploded in the fourth inning, plating seven runs to take firm control of the game. The final runs came an inning later as senior Preston Tofstad drew a bases loaded walk to score freshman Carson Clark for the game winning eleventh run.
"I'm proud of how our guys stuck with it and finally broke through," said Dues.
On the mound senior lefty Ryan Qvick (5-1) went the distance for Butler, striking out six and allowed just three hits on the night.
"Qvick kept them in check on the mound," Dues said.
Offensively Butler was paced by McKinney and Fults with two hits each.
As Sectional Champions, Butler (17-10, 11-4) moves on and will now face Springboro (19-8, 9-2) on Thursday at Northmont High School in the District Semi-Final at 5:00 PM.
"We move on and that is a good thing," said Dues.
"We have played a tough schedule and there is not much that our guys haven't already seen, so you never know."
VANDALIA - It was a perfect evening of baseball as the Aviators celebrated Senior Night with a decisive 9-2 win over Fairmont Monday.
The win was Butler's third straight, sending the Aviators into Thursday's tournament opener on a wave of momentum.
"This was a nice team win," Head Coach Trent Dues said after the game.
"It was a great Senior Night with perfect weather, a great crowd, and all of our seniors contributed."
Senior Ryan Qvick got the start for Butler, and made quick work of the Firebirds, sitting the side down in order.
Fellow senior Caiden Serrer took over in the second inning and worked the next three innings from the mound. Serrer allowed just four hits and held Fairmont scoreless enroute to the win.
Quinton Hall, Cam Miller and Preston Tofstad each worked the final three innings, allowing just three hits and one earned run.
"We threw five different guys to get everyone some work and they all threw well," said Dues.
Offensively Butler was paced by senior Evan McKinney and freshman Carson Clark who each went 2-for-3 with two RBI.
Senior Jack Mitchell and junior Karter Peck each had two RBI and senior Jake DeMoss added an RBI as well.
"Hopefully we can carry our good play into the tournament," said Dues.
For Butler the tournament officially kicks off on Thursday at home. The Aviators will face the winner of Tuesday's Stebbins/Tecumseh match-up at 5:00 PM.
VANDALIA - Sporting the vibrant, purple jerseys with the word BUTLER emblazoned across their chests, the Aviators came out looking and feeling like a different team.
From the onset of Tuesday's rematch with Tippecanoe, Butler came out with a swagger and a game plan that can only be described with one word.
That aggression paid dividends, netting the Aviators an exhilarating, walk-off win over rival the rival Red Devils.
"I'm very proud of this group of guys, as they have battled a tough schedule and some key injuries, but refuse to give up," said head Coach Trent Dues after the game.
For Butler, it started on the mound where southpaw Ryan Qvick (4-1) went right after the Tippecanoe hitters, in what was an incredible pitching performance for the senior.
Through 6 1/3 innings of work Qvick struck out six, allowed only two walks and did not give up an earned run.
He was backed by a solid defense that turned two critical double plays in the second and third innings to extinguish early Red Devil threats.
Butler jumped on Tippecanoe early, when senior Preston Tofstad tripled on a shot that scored Dolen Fults for an early 1-0 lead.
The stalemate went on for another five innings.
The Aviators executed double steals, attempted a few steals of home plate, and generally kept the Red Devils on edge and out of sorts all evening.
Tippecanoe finally got on the board in the sixth inning, plating two unearned runs to take the late 2-1 lead.
Undeterred, the Aviators got to work in the bottom half of the inning.
Senior Jake DeMoss got things going with a leadoff liner to left field. Karter Peck followed that with a textbook sacrifice bunt, moving the tying run to second.
Senior Joe Jackson sent another single shot to left, scoring DeMoss and knotting the game at 2-2.
With one out in the top of the seventh, Tofstad took to the mound and was lights out for the Aviators, giving Butler a chance to put the game away in the seventh.
They did just that.
"Ryan continued his stellar work on the mound and Preston came in and pitched clutch in that last inning," Dues said.
Senior Jack Mitchell leadoff with a single to center and Cam Miller's sacrifice bunt put him aboard at second. After Fults was intentionally walked, freshman Boston Smith delivered the game winning shot to left field, as Mitchell was waved around third into a jubilant sea of purple and a 3-2 Butler win.
"Boston Smith continues to play beyond his year, with that nice rope to score Mitchell," said Dues.
After the tough bounces that this team has faced during the season, the win wasa welcome one.
"This was a great win for our team," said Dues. "We have had some adversity, but these guys refuse to quit."
The Aviators wrap-up GWOC American play on Thursday, with a 5:00 PM game at West Carrollton.
TIPP CITY - It was a rough day at the office for the Aviators, as Butler fell to rival Tippecanoe by a score of 5-0.
A hard, fast infield played to the home team and wreaked havoc for Butler on several occasions as the Aviators committed four errors on the day.
Despite Butler out hitting the Red Devils, an opportunistic Tippecanoe was able to able to capitalize with runners in scoring position.
Junior Braedon Norman got the start for Butler and struck out four and allowed just three hits through 2 2/3 innings of work. Norman brought the large crowd to a concerned hush, as he left the game with an injury in the third inning.
Freshman Quinton Hall and senior Caiden Serrer came on in relief and finished the game out for Butler, allowing just one earned run.
Offensively seniors Preston Tofstad and Jake DeMoss each two hits for Butler. Freshmen Carson Clark and Boston Smith each contributed a hit as well.
Butler will look to even the series Tuesday, as they host the Red Devils at 5:00 PM.
CINCINNATI - Baseball is a game of streaks, bounces, bloopers and bleeders — sometimes they go your way, and sometimes they don't.
Just two weeks ago the Aviators hit a mid-season skid, dropping five of their six games played in that stretch. But Head Coach Trent Dues has a resilient bunch, and the Aviators capped off a perfect week with a fourth straight win, this one a 3-2 nailbiter at LaSalle.
"That was a great team win for us," Dues said after the game. "Everyone contributed. We only had one guy left unused."
For Butler, it looked bleak for most of the game as the Aviators struggled at the plate and could not generate that much needed spark.
That was until the sixth inning rolled around.
Lancers' pitcher Nolan Enzweiler had held Butler in check most of the day with seven strikeouts, but ran into trouble late — and the Aviators made him pay.
After a leadoff walk to Cody Borchers, Cam Miller singled to right, putting the Aviators in business. After a strikeout and flyout, Preston Tofstad was hit by a pitch and the bases were loaded with two outs.
Needing runs in the worst way, Butler looked to Evan McKinney to get the rally started — and that's exactly what the senior did.
McKinney ripped a hard grounder past the glove of LaSalle third baseman Drew Nieman, scoring Jack Mitchell from third, to cut the Lancer's lead to 2-1.
A batter later junior Karter Peck drove a two-strike offering to centerfield for a two-run single, giving the Aviators their first lead of the game.
"We only had three hits, but we made them count as two were RBI singles," said Dues.
Senior pitcher Ryan Qvick (4-1) earned the win for Butler, pitching three innings of relief, striking out three and holding LaSalle to just one hit.
Alex Joynes got the start and pitched two innings, striking out two and allowed just two hits.
Seniors Caiden Serrer and Preston Tofstad combined to close out the Butler win. Tofstad who pitched the final 1 2/3 picked up the save, his third of the year.
"Qvick and Tofstad pitched great in relief," said Dues.
But the win was not without drama — the Lancers threatened in the bottom of the sixth inning with runners on first and third, but the Aviators were able to rely on Tofstad's pitching and sound defense to get them out of the jam.
The stakes were even higher an inning later as LaSalle again put two runners on the basepaths, and threatened with the tying run aboard at third.
For Butler, another heartbreaking loss was not in the cards on this day, as the Aviators flawlessly executed a 1-3-5-2 double play to end the game and secure the win.
"We made some solid defensive plays, and anytime you can turn a 1-3-5-2 double play, you've got to be happy."
The Aviators will wrap-up GWOC American play this week league contests against Tippecanoe and West Carrollton,
VANDALIA - The Aviators honored their baseball alumni Friday night with an 8-0 win over Xenia under the lights.
It was a perfect evening for baseball and the Butler faithful came out in droves to commemorate former Butler players from as far back as the 1940's and were treated to a shutout win.
Freshman Quinton Hall (3-3) picked up his second win of the week, allowing just one hit through three innings of work. The lefty rang up three Buccs and picked off two with a devastating move from the mound.
Hall was relieved by junior Cody Borchers who worked two innings from the bump, striking out four and also allowed just one hit.
Fellow junior Braedon Norman came on in the sixth inning to close out the win, pitching the final two hitless innings, striking out five of the six batters faced.
“It was a GWOC win for us as Quinton, Cody and Braedon all pitched well and limited Xenia to only two hits and three freebies,” said coach Trent Dues after the game.
Not only was pitching lights out, but the defense also turned in a great game from the field.
“Our defense aided them by playing an errorless game. Offensively, we put the ball in play enough to make things happen,” said Dues.
At the plate the Aviators continues their hot-streak with seven hits on the evening.
Senior Jack Mitchell and junior Karter Peck each had two hits, while Carson Clark and Cam Miller each had two RBI.
Jake DeMoss and Carson Clark each hits triples, and Peck added a double.
Buler will be back at it tomorrow heading south for a 12:00 PM match-up at LaSalle.
VANDALIA - The Butler bats remained hot Wednesday afternoon, as the Aviators swept Sidney with a 12-2 win.
Like the day before, the Aviators took care of business in run-rule fashion, this one a five inning affair.
Freshman pitcher Quinton Hall got the start on the mound and earned the win, holding Yellow Jackets hitless through his two innings of work. Senior Caiden Serrer came on in relief to pitch the final three innings, allowing just one earned run as Butler cruised to victory.
At the plate Butler again turned in a solid performance as senior Jake DeMoss scored two runs and added three RBI. Junior Karter Peck went 2-for-3 with an RBI and junior Cam Miller turned in a two RBI performance of his own.
On the basepaths senior Preston Tofstad stole three bases, while Miller and freshman Boston Smith each nabbed two.
The Aviators will get a day of rest before hosting Xenia on Friday night at 7:00 PM. The evening game will be highlighted by a host of Butler Alumni returning to be honored at the annual Alumni Game. The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown out by 89-year old Dick Scherer, a 1946 graduate and former Butler pitcher and shortstop from 1943 - 46.
SIDNEY - The Aviators shook off a tumultuous week with a 15-3 win over host Sidney Tuesday evening, improving their overall record to 10-9,7-3.
After a first inning which saw Butler down 3-2, the Aviators rattled off thirteen unanswered runs on their way to the six inning, run-rule win.
Senior pitcher Ryan Qvick (3-1) picked up the win working five innings, allowing just two earned runs and four strikeouts. Qvick was relieved in the sixth inning by Alex Joynes who held the Jackets hitless, sitting them down in order to end the game.
Offensively the Aviators erupted for thirteen hits and were a nightmare on the basepaths, stealing seven bases. Senior Dolen Fults and freshman Boston Smith each had a pair of steals on the night.
Fults and Smith, along with senior Preston Tofstad each had multiple hits and RBI in the win. Senior Jack Mitchell added two RBI, while Cam Miller, Byron Greaser, Joe Jackson, Karter Peck, and Jake DeMoss added an RBI each.
Butler and Sidney will wrap-up the series Wednesday at Butler in a 5:00 PM tilt.
VANDALIA - It was a rough week for Butler Baseball, one that unfortunately ended with a thud.
Butler was saddled with yet another loss Saturday, this one a six inning, 13-2 defeat at the hands of Archbishop Moeller (10-6, 3-2). For the Aviators, it was their fourth loss in five games. On Thursday Butler lost an extra inning heartbreaker to Fairborn 3-2.
The game started well for the Aviators with two quick outs, but the Crusaders turned a two-out walk into a rally, scoring six runs in the first inning.
They never looked back, closing out the run-rule victory in the sixth inning.
For Butler Jake DeMoss, Caiden Serrer, Cam Miller and Joe Jackson each put in work from the bump, combining for five strikeouts.
Offensively the Aviators continued to struggle, netting just two hits all afternoon. Senior Preston Tofstad and junior Karter Peck each had a hit, while senior Dolen Fults scored two runs and Tofstad crossed for Butler's third and final run on the day.
The Aviators will look to right the ship Monday hosting Sidney (6-6, 4-4) at 5:00 PM.
VANDALIA - The road to a fourth straight GWOC North Championship is now covered in potholes for the Aviators after being swept by the visiting Troy Trojans in Wednesday's double header.
The Aviators fell short in both games by a score of 3-2, the series finale being decided under the lights in a nine inning heartbreaker.
In game one the Aviators faced Troy pitcher Derek McDonagh, who held the Aviators in check for most of the night. McDonagh allowed just three hits and struck out eight, en route to a complete game victory.
On the flipside for Butler, the Aviators had ace Braedon Norman on the mound who was ultimately saddled with the tough loss. The junior right-hander turned in a solid performance of his own, working six innings with seven strikeouts, four hits allowed and just one earned run.
In a pitcher's duel the margin for error is small, and for Butler the miscues and missed opportunities hurt in a big way.
"It comes down to the little things," said Trent Dues after the game. "They did more little things right then we did.
The Trojans played a nearly flawless game, but the Aviators pounced on the sole mistake early. Trailing 1-0 with one out in the bottom of the third, the Aviators put a runner on after a dropped third strike. Evan McKinney stole second base a batter later and it was freshman Boston Smith who would connect on a two out, single line drive to tie the game at 1-1.
The game would remain a stalemate until the fifth inning. Troy's Cole Brogan hit a bases loaded, two-out double to left field, to give Troy a 3-1 advantage.
The Aviators floundered at the plate as they had for most of the day until the bottom of the seventh.
Butler opened the inning with back-to-back walks, setting the table for senior Preston Tofstad. Tofstad laid down a textbook bunt for an RBI single to cut the lead to 3-2. The rally would fall short though, as a groundout and two strikeouts would strand three on the basepaths.
"We couldn't put the ball in play at the end," said Dues. "We had the bases loaded, and you have to make contact. Give their guy credit, he did a nice job."
Unfortunately for Butler, the second game of the evening would bring more of the same. Down 2-0 the Aviators rallied to tie the game at 2-2 in the fifth inning. The Aviators would have runners in position to win the game in the eighth and ninth innings, but could not capitalize.
Troy would go on to load the bases in the bottom of the ninth and won the game courtesy of a walk-off single by Matt Bigley.
The pair off losses drops Butler to 8-5, 5-2 and puts the Aviators on the outside looking in at the GWOC North title.
The Aviators now shift focus to Thursday's home tilt against Fairborn at 5:00 PM.
VANDALIA - The Aviators remained perfect in GWOC North play with a 9-4 win over Greenville Thursday afternoon.
After spotting the Greenwave a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning, Butler got things started in the bottom half of the inning. Senior Jake DeMoss hit an RBI double, scoring junior Karter Peck to cut the lead to 2-1. Senior Joe Jackson would knot things up an inning later, scoring senior Dolen Fults who had just doubled, to even the score at 2-2.
The Aviators would plate three more runs in the fourth and four in the fifth, blowing the game wide open.
Senior pitcher Ryan Qvick earned the win on the mound for Butler, working 4.1 innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs, while striking out six. Qvick was relieved by senior Preston Tofstad who closed out the win, pitching 2.2 innings of three hit baseball. Tofstad allowed just two earned runs and notched two strikeouts.
Senior Evan McKinney finished 1-for-2 with a run and two RBI, while DeMoss went 2-for-2 with two runs and an RBI. Peck added two runs and an RBI and junior Braedon Norman, Fults and Tofstad each added a run in the win.
Butler will get a day off before returning to action Saturday for an 11:00 AM match-up at Springboro (7-2, 1-0).
FAIRBORN - The Aviators saw their modest five-game win streak snapped Wednesday evening, dropping a 6-3 decision to Centerville at Wright State's Nischwitz Stadium.
After jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead, Centerville junior pitcher Connor Walch settled in and kept the Aviators in check for the next six innings.
Freshman Boston Smith led the way for Butler offensively going 2-for-4 with a triple an a run scored. Junior Cody Borchers and senior Jake DeMoss each added an RBI for the Aviators.
Freshman pitcher Quinton Hall pitched three innings, allowing just two earned runs. Senior Alex Joynes came on in relief to pitch the final three innings, allowing just two hits and one earned run.
Butler (7-4, 4-0) returns to GWOC North action Thursday at home against Greenville at 5:00 PM.
GREENVILLE - The Aviator Express rolled on Tuesday evening as Butler (7-3, 4-0) earned a fifth straight win, taking care of host Greenville 7-2.
Junior Braedon Norman (3-0) made quick work of the Green Wave, going the distance with ten strikeouts, allowing just three hits.
Offensively freshman Boston Smith and senior Jake DeMoss went 2-for-3 with an RBI to pace the Aviators.
Butler returns to action on Wednesday with a 5:00 PM matchup against an always solid Centerville at Wright State University.
VANDALIA - For a freshman, the varsity baseball field can be a pretty intimidating place. Add to that the pressure of being on the mound against one of your biggest rivals and it's enough to make even the most well prepared weak in the knees.
But not Butler freshman pitcher Quinton Hall.
The young lefty made his debut in the Aviator's opener against Wheaton North, coming on in relief to pitch three shutout innings in the Butler win.
Fast forward nearly two weeks and it was Hall who got the start for Saturday's match-up with rival Northmont.
Hall (1-1) worked four innings, striking out four and allowed just two runs as he and the Aviators picked up a 7-4 win over the Bolts.
The freshman was relieved in the fifth inning by senior Preston Tofstad who allowed just one hit, while junior Braedon Norman was called upon in the seventh to close out the victory. Norman allowed just one hit, making quick work of the Bolts for the save.
"Quinton, Preston and Braedon did a nice job on the mound and we manufactured enough offensively to get the W," said head coach Trent Dues after the game. "Our defense really did a nice job behind our pitchers."
Offensively Butler (6-3, 3-0) again showed a versatile line-up, something that has continued to equate into wins for Butler. In fact since returning home from South Carolina, the Aviators have not lost a game, notching their fourth straight win in a row.
"We continue to mix and match our lineup because of the versatility of our guys," said Dues.
Dolen Fults went 3-for-3 with a run, junior Cody Borchers finished 2-for-4 and Braedon Norman went 2-for-4 with two runs.
Preston Tofstad led all Aviators in RBI with four. Karter Peck and Jake DeMoss each added an RBI a piece.
As freshman go, Hall is not alone as fellow classmates Boston Smith and Carson Clark are also starting and producing for the Aviators.
Smith alone accounted for three of Butler's seven runs in the win over the Bolts.
While the most meaningful games with league implications are played during the week, the annual battle with the team across the dam draws a crowd. And as it does with all sports played between the two schools, winning the game brings a satisfaction summed up by Dues after the game.
"It's always good to beat the Bolts, he said.
VANDALIA - Butler erupted in the second inning Friday night, scoring 19 runs en route to a 20-0 blowout win over Stebbins.
Senior Joe Jackson earned the win for Butler, going the distance for the Aviators in a game that lasted a mere two innings. Through those two innings, Jackson struck out four and allowed just one hit.
At the plate the Aviators racked up nine hits and took full advantage of four Indians' errors in the lopsided victory.
Freshman Boston Smith went 1-for-3 with three runs and three RBI. Senior Preston Tofstad also had three RBI, while fellow seniors Evan McKinney, Jake DeMoss and junior Cody Borchers each added two RBI each.
The win was Butler's third in-a-row, improving the Aviators' overall record to 5-3, 3-0 on the season.
PIQUA - After a week of playing down in South Carolina the Aviators (3-3, 1-0) returned to the cold reality that is early spring in Ohio. Despite the three inches of snow that fell overnight, the Aviators and Piqua Indians were able to move forward with the GWOC North opener Monday evening.
Because of the snow and quick melt, the start of the game was pushed back to 6:00, making already blustery game conditions even colder.
For the Aviators however, pitcher Braedon Norman absolutely sizzled on the mound. The junior righty pitched a complete game, striking out twelve en route to a 4-0 win over the Indians.
"Braedon pitched a fine game, striking out twelve and only walking one batter," said Trent Dues after the win.
Dialed in, Norman set the tone early for Butler, keeping Piqua off balance all evening with a mix of pitches and a popping fastball.
The frigid temperatures and wind made offense hard to come by for both teams, but the Aviators were able to make solid contact throughout and capitalized when they needed to.
Junior Karter Peck got things started in the second inning with a one out single. Senior Jacob DeMoss hit a hard grounder to third, capitalizing on an error by Indians' third baseman Spencer Lavey to get aboard. Freshman Carson Clark picked up the RBI two batters later with a single to centerfield, scoring Peck for an early 1-0 lead.
Butler struck again in the fifth inning. This time freshman Boston Smith hit a line drive shot to second base, scoring senior Dolen Fults for a 2-0 lead.
The Aviators added on insurance runs in the seventh to ice the win.
"We played some good small ball to manufacture our runs tonight in the cold, wet conditions," said Dues.
MYRTLE BEACH, SC - The Aviators wrapped-up their week long trip in Myrtle Beach with a 4-0 loss to Halifax County (VA) Friday night. The loss dropped Butler's record to 2-3 on the season, but the Aviators return home to Ohio battle tested.
"We played some very good competition," said Butler Head Coach Trent Dues. "We played quality teams in all five games and three of those teams could be state champs."
As it does every year, Butler played in the most competitive bracket of teams in the Ripken Experience. Doing so allows the Aviators to face strong competition from all around the United States.
"This was the best competition that we have played down here as a whole, in the four times that we have been here," said Dues. "It has always been competitive, but this was a level-up.
In Friday's game the Aviators faced a Halifax County team coming off of a 22-4 season, finishing as the 5A State Runner-Up in Virginia. The Comets are considered the early favorites for the state title in 2018, and they showed why, shutting out Butler 4-0.
Comets pitcher Troy Ferrell picked up the win, working 3 1/3 innings and was relieved by a deep stable of pitchers who combined for 11 strikeouts on the night.
As they have been in a few of the games in Myrtle Beach, runs proved to be difficult to come by. The Aviators were able to get runners on the basepaths, but unfortunately could not get those runners across for runs.
Down 1-0 in the bottom of the first, it appeared that Butler was in business, loading the bases with nobody out. But as fate would have it, a fielder's choice, fly out and ground out would extinguish the threat and set the tone.
"We were in this and every game that we played," said Dues. "We were just a few mistakes away from winning the games that we lost."
For Butler, Jake DeMoss and Preston Tofstad pitched six innings, allowing just one earned run. Junior Braedon Norman came on in the seventh and sat the Comets down with three straight strikeouts.
Junior Karter Peck had a double, while Dolen Fults, Joe Jackson and Braedon Norman each had a hit in the loss.
"The guys battled each and every out," said Dues. "We have to use these games to better ourselves for the remaining games in Ohio."
For Butler, the challenge will not get any easier as an always competitive non-conference and divisional schedule await.
"The GWOC North is going to be a challenge," said Dues. "We would also like to make a good tournament run, so hopefully these heavily contested games will prepare us for that."
Waiting for the Aviators on Monday is a 5:00 PM GWOC North matchup against Piqua at historic Hardman Field.
MYRTLE BEACH, SC - Butler Baseball has never been big on moral victories, but if there is a silver lining to be had on Thursday's 6-3 loss, it's that the Aviators are continuing to go toe-to-toe with top talent in the early stages of the season. North Penn showed why they have brought home two AAAA Baseball State Championships over the last five years. The Knights powerful lineup and pitching enabled them to inch out the Aviators in the end.
It was a back and forth affair for the first three innings, as both teams were able to match wits, plating a run in each of the first three innings.
Tied up at 3-3, the Knights finally got separation in the fourth inning, plating three runs that would ultimates seal the deal. North Penn pitcher Danny Kirwin, a Rider University commit held Butler to just three runs on four hits, striking out four. He was relieved in the fourth inning by left-hander Mason Blankenburg who held Butler to a hit, striking out one.
Freshman Quinton Hall and Joe Jackson held the Knights to just three earned runs, but the opportunistic North Penn team was able to capitalize when it needed to. Hall worked the first four innings and was relieved by Jackson who allowed just two hits, while striking out six.
Offensively Butler was paced by freshman Carson Clark who went 2-for-3 with a run. Freshman Boston Smith and seniors Jake DeMoss and Preston Tofstad each added an RBI. Junior Karter Peck tripled in the second inning for the Aviators.
Butler (2-2) will look to end the Myrtle Beach trip on a high note Friday evening, wrapping-up the week against Halifax County (VA) at 6:30 PM. The Comets also come into Friday's game at 2-2, falling to Tunstall by a score of 3-0 on Thursday. You can view the game live by clicking here.
MYRTLE BEACH, SC - The Aviators rallied in the top of the 7th inning, plating three runs to secure a come from behind, 9-7 win over Pickerington North Wednesday afternoon.
With bright blue skies and a line of Carolina pines towering over the outfield wall, Butler had a beautiful backdrop for what they hoped would be a bounce back win after Tuesday night's loss to Olentangy Liberty.
It wouldn't be easy.
The Aviators got things started right out of the gate, as Dolen Fults took an eight pitch leadoff walk. Freshman Carson Clark followed with a single and senior Joe Jackson brought Fults across from third for the early 1-0 lead.
The Panthers answered in the bottom half, knotting the game at 1-1. Butler regained the lead in the top of the third inning with two runs, but the Panthers again answered in the bottom half of the inning with four runs, taking a 5-3 lead.
Both team followed suit in the fourth inning, Butler taking a short lead with three runs scored, only to give up two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to again fall behind, this time 7-6.
The score would remain tied until the final inning.
Karter Peck led things off for the Aviators with a hard hit single to second base and would steal that same base a pitch later. Next to the plate was Cody Borchers, who laid a textbook bunt, arriving safely at first and more importantly advancing Peck to third. The move would prove to be crucial as Peck would take advantage of a Panther's passed ball to score, tying the game at 7-7.
Freshman Boston Smith would put Butler back on top for good with a line drive shot to center, plating Borchers with a stand-up double. Carson Clark added to the Aviator's lead with a hard, RBI liner to center, scoring Smith for the 9-7 lead.
Senior Preston Tofstad (1-0) put the Panthers away with a fly out, strikeout and pop-up to secure the win. Tofstad, who had come on in relief in the sixth inning picked up the win through 1 2/3 innings of work, allowing no hits while striking out two.
The win puts Butler at 2-1 on the season, and send the Aviators into tomorrow afternoon's game against North Penn (PA) on a high note. First pitch will be at 4:00 PM at Ebbetts Field within the Ripken Complex. Live streaming is available for this game by clicking here.
MYRTLE BEACH, SC - The Butler Baseball team has once again made the annual trip south for spring break baseball. The weeklong trip allows the team an opportunity to play erate climate at the state-of-the-art Ripken Experience facility in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Butler got an early start to the week with a 10:00 AM first pitch at Pelican Ballpark, home to the Chicago Cub Advanced Class A team.
The Aviators overcame an early 4-0 deficit, coming back to hand Wheaton North (Illinois) it's first loss of the year in a 9-6 opening day win over the Falcons.
Butler junior Braedon Norman (1-0) got the start for the Aviators, working four innings, striking out five enroute to the win. Norman was relieved in the fifth inning by freshman Quinton Hall. The lefthander went to work, pitching three innings of scoreless baseball with two strikeouts and surrendered just one hit while picking up the save.
Offensively the Aviators got things going in the third inning, plating four runs to knot the game at 4-4. After falling behind once again 5-4 in the bottom half of the third inning, Butler pulled ahead for good an inning later with a three run fourth inning. Karter Peck added an exclamation point to the inning, hammering out a triple and scoring Joe Jackson from third for a 7-5 lead.
Butler would add an additional two runs in the sixth inning to secure the season opening victory.
Butler will return to action Tuesday evening, facing off against fellow buckeyes Olentangy-Liberty at 6:30 PM.