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Aviators Win District Title With 5-4 Win Over Moeller

BEAVERCREEK - It couldn't have started any worse - and it couldn't have ended any better.

What else can you say about another heart stopping, come from behind win for the red hot Butler Aviators. This one a 5-4 District Championship clinching, walk-off win over Moeller (20-10).

"Well I guess that's why you never say never," said a jubilant Trent Dues after the win.

You certainly don't when it comes to this team.

Much like Tuesday's game against Sidney, the Aviators found themselves down and running out of time in the bottom half of the seventh inning.

And just like Tuesday - the Aviators never gave up.

"We scratched and clawed our way back from a 4-0 deficit in the first," said Dues.

They did just that and then some.

The Crusaders took advantage of an error in the first inning and never looked back, making life difficult for starter Quinton Hall and the Aviators plating two early runs.

Things went from bad to worse when Moeller first baseman Nate Earley sent a rocket to right field for a two-run homer and a 4-0 lead.

Not the start that any pitcher wants.

Luckily for Butler, Hall is not just any pitcher. The southpaw and EKU commit battled back and would keep the Crusaders off of the board for the remainder of the game, enroute to a seven strikeout, complete game performance.

"Quinton just settled in after the first inning and gave us a chance," said Dues.

The win improved Hall's overall record to 12-0, making him the first Butler pitcher in school history to eclipse eleven wins. A record previously set in 1997 by Butler great, Georgia Tech Hall of Famer and former MLB pitcher Cory Vance.

No small feat.

With Hall holding down the Crusaders from the bump, Butler got to work chipping away at the Moeller lead, plating a run in the first, third and fifth innings.

"I thought if we could just keep them at bay, we could scratch across some runs," said Dues.

Hall also helped himself out at the plate, with a hit and three walks - allowing him to cross the plate after each at bat for four key runs.

Down 4-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the fireworks were about to begin.

Moeller reliever Cam Porter got things started with a glove popping strikeout, erupting the Crusader dugout and crowd.

Hall took a four pitch walk and Carson Clark was hit by a pitch to put the Aviators in business at first and second.

Moeller skipper Tim Held then opted to bring in pitcher Ryan Benne to face Boston Smith.

Smith took a 2-2 fastball and sent a moonshot to the deepest depths of centerfield for what appeared to be a signaled homerun.

Hall crossed the plate to know the game at 4-4 and Clark was coming in to score the winning run, but was met with a throw from center for the out at the plate.

Chaos ensued - but in the end Smith's shot was ruled a double and the Aviators were down to their final out.

Held opted to intentionally walk Kaden Echeman, setting the stage for Mike Masters.

Hitless for the game to that point, the senior battled with two strikes to deliver the game winning single, a sharply hit grounder to second base.

Smith came squealing around third and jubilantly tossed his helmet into the air as he crossed the plate and ran into a sea - or rather a pile of yellow jerseys.

"Boston and Mike had those huge hits in the seventh," said Dues.

"Carson and Q were consistently hitting and getting on base tonight as well and that setup the dramatic seventh inning for us".

"Hats off the Moeller for playing a solid game," said Dues.

Up next for Butler will be Mason (24-5), who defeated the Cinderella #20 seed Little Miami 13-4.

The win puts Butler back in the Regional Semi-Final, the very place where the 2019 season ended.

The sophomores on that team are now seniors, and if we have learned anything this year - never say never when it comes to the Aviators.



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