TIPP CITY - All season long the Aviators (19-2, 15-1) and Red Devils (16-3, 12-3) have been on a collision course. The two titans of the Miami Valley League finally got together on the field Wednesday afternoon - and it didn't disappoint.
"A great game tonight, with two good pitchers going at it", said Butler head coach Trent Dues, after the Aviators pulled out a 2-1 win over rival Tippecanoe.
It was a match-up between two of the state's best teams, as Butler is ranked #5 in the latest DI Coaches Poll and Tippecanoe sits atop the DII Coaches Poll at #1.
It was also a showdown between two of the best pitchers in the area and league, as Butler's Quinton Hall (8-1) faced off against Tipp's Matt Salmon (6-1).
"Hats off to both Quinton and Salmon", said Dues.
"Both guys pitched a gem".
Indeed they did.
Salmon held a red-hot Aviator offense to just six hits and two earned runs. The junior struck out four in the losing effort.
For the Aviators, Hall added the much needed spark. The senior southpaw absolutely sizzled from the mound, allowing just two hits while striking out twelve.
Hall also got things going for Butler after an early 1-0 deficit - it was Hall's RBI single that scored Bitty Hendricks to knot the game at 1-1 in the second inning.
The pitcher's duel would grind on for the remainder of the game.
If Hall brought the spark, it was fellow senior Boston Smith who brought the dynamite - blasting the game winner over the centerfield wall in the top of the sixth, for the 2-1 lead and ultimately the win.
The homerun was a league leading sixth knock for Smith.
"Boston got ahold of one to propel us to victory", said Dues.
With the win, Butler clinched at least a share of the Miami Valley League crown. A win over Tippecanoe on Friday or Xenia on Monday would give the Aviators the title outright.
The league championship is Butler's 20th during Dues' 27 seasons at the helm for the Aviators.
A staggering number to say the least.
And while another league championship and win over a rival is a lot to smile about - the Aviators still have a great deal more that they aim to accomplish in this 2021 season.