The First Pitch: Butler kicks off the 2009 Horizon League Baseball Championship as the No. 7 seed when it takes on No. 6 seed Youngstown State on Tuesday (May 19) beginning at 3:00 p.m. at The Pipe Yard in Lorain, Ohio. The Bulldogs will need a win against the Penguins to stay alive and advance to the double-elimination portion of the tournament on Wednesday (May 20), where they would face No. 3 seed Wright State beginning at 3:00 p.m.
Butler In The League Tournament: Butler holds 25-35 all-time record in the Horizon League Championship, dating back to the tournament's inception in 1981. The Bulldogs did not pick up their first victory in the competition until the 1991 campaign, however, topping Saint Louis, 5-2, in the opening round. Butler would roll to its first league tournament title in 1998, as it entered the championship as the No. 1 seed before picking up three-straight wins - including a 6-2 decision against Milwaukee in the title game. After falling to UWM in the championship contest a year later, the Bulldogs rebounded to notch their second tournament title in as many years in 2000, rallying from a first-round defeat to score four-straight victories - including back-to-back wins over UIC. Butler has fallen on hard times lately, however, as the Bulldogs last tournament win came in 2006.
Advantage Bulldogs: Butler holds a close 3-2 margin over the Penguins in the Horizon League Championship, although Youngstown State claimed a convincing, 20-7, win in the last meeting in 2007.
A Look At The Match-Up: The Bulldogs enter Tuesday's contest with a 1-4 record in five games against the Penguins during the regular season. After dropping three contests in Youngstown back on April 4-5, Butler held on for a 4-1 victory in the first game of a doubleheader on April 26 before falling just short in the second contest.
Hernandez Honored: After putting together an impressive rookie campaign that saw him lead the team with three wins, freshman right-hander Mike Hernandez was named one of just two pitchers to the 2009 Horizon League All-Newcomer Team. A native of Crown Point, Ind., Hernandez finished the regular season with a team-best 64 innings pitched while ranking seventh in the conference with 52 strikeouts and 10th with only 17 walks allowed.
Bulldogs Upend OVC Champ Eastern Illinois: Senior Tyler Tepe pitched four strong innings in his first collegiate start and senior Jason Jamerson provided an offensive spark with his bat to help lead Butler to a 7-5 victory over Ohio Valley Conference champion Eastern Illinois in a non-league game at Bulldog Park. Tepe turned in a career performance against the Panthers, who entered the contest with a 34-10 record and a .366 team batting average. The Butler right-hander retired nine of the first 11 batters he faced, allowing singles in the first and third innings. He was nicked for a solo home run in the fourth inning, his final frame in a predetermined coach's decision. Jamerson provided the key hit for the Bulldogs with a three-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning - the first home run of his career - to break a 1-1 tie and give Butler the lead for good.
Coach Farley's Thoughts: "The games against Milwaukee in Miller Park were about as good as it gets for a college baseball fan: two good teams competing until the last out in every game played. We were extremely disappointed to lose two one-run games, but Milwaukee got the clutch hits in the bottom of the ninth when it counted. There is a reason they finished runner up in the league this year - they are a very solid team. It also says a lot about our team's character to come back from four runs behind with two outs in the ninth inning to tie the game. I'm sure our conference tournament game against Youngstown State will be barn-burner, as we usually play hard fought games against each other. Our guys will play with heart and we are looking forward to competing in the tournament."
A Century Of Butler Baseball: The 2009 campaign marks the 100th season of baseball at Butler University, dating back to 1901. In 99-plus seasons, the Bulldogs have tallied a 1,155-1,365-11 (.458) all-time record, eight league championships and a pair of NCAA tournament appearances.
Crush-A-Pitch Fillipitch: Grant Fillipitch has been the Bulldogs' top source of power in the lineup this season, boasting a team-best six home runs, 16 doubles, 88 total bases and .466 slugging percentage. He also paces the squad with 54 hits and 30 runs scored, while his 27 RBI are second-most.
Walk This Way: Butler hitters have been the most patient in the Horizon League this season, as the Bulldogs lead the conference with 190 walks drawn in 51 games.
You Betsch-ya: A big reason for the Bulldogs' success in drawing free passes has been due to the play of Rick Betsch. The senior outfielder ranks second in the league with 31 walks, just one shy of the conference leader. His .411 on base percentage leads the team and is the 10th-best mark in the league.
Control Freaks: Butler starters Matt Sokolowski, Jeff Sinkiewicz and Mike Hernandez have been among the best pitchers in the league when it comes to control. Sokolowski and Sinkiewicz rank in a fifth-place tie in the conference with just 13 walks allowed each, with the former's coming in 53.1 innings and the latter posting 53.0 frames. Hernandez, meanwhile, is 10th with 17 allowed in a team-high 64.0 innings of work. Butler is the only team with three players on the top-10 fewest walks list.
Record-Setting Hitting: Rookie Blaine DeCamp put together a record-setting performance at the plate against IPFW on April 8. The Columbus, Ind., native became just the 12th player in Butler history to pick up five hits in a game, going 5-for-7 with four runs scored and a pair of RBI.
Big-Time Non-Conference: Butler had to battle through a highly-competitive non-league schedule this season, with opponents from the Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Mountain West, Atlantic-10 and Missouri Valley featured during the year.
Bulldog Park Renovations: Bulldog Park, home of the Butler baseball team, has undergone some major improvements this year. Last fall, the field received a new pitcher's mound and home plate area, new laser-graded infield dirt and new sod around the first and third base, home plate and the mound. The crown jewel of the renovation project, to be completed over the summer, will be a 6,000 square foot multi-purpose hitting facility that will feature four turfed indoor batting cages and pitching mounds, pitching machines, drill stations and a bathroom. The facility is already nearing completion, as the finishing touches are being put on the interior.