INDIANAPOLIS -- Juniors Pat Gelwicks and Jimmy Risi slugged two-run home runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift Butler to a come-from-behind 8-6 victory over Ball State in a non-league game at Victory Field on Tuesday, April 10. The win lifted the Bulldogs to 18-15 on the season.
Gelwicks capped a comeback that saw the Bulldogs rally from a 6-1 deficit in their final four at-bats. With one out in the eighth inning and teammate Jack Dillon on first base, the Butler designated hitter lifted a towering fly ball that sailed over the rightfield fence and landed at the base of the Victory Field scoreboard, 380 feet away. The home run, his fifth of the season, tied the game at 6-6.
Junior Bob Akin followed Gelwicks' home run with a walk, bring Risi to the plate. The Butler first baseman greeted Ball State pitcher Matt Johnsen with a shot that sailed over the right-center field fence nearly duplicating the blast by Gelwicks. The game-winning blow was Risi's seventh home run of the year.
The two home runs highlighted Butler's offensive afternoon, but it was a stellar bullpen performance that kept the Bulldogs in a position to win. Four different Butler hurlers blanked the Cardinals on three hits over the final six-and-a-third innings of the game. Junior Joel Leichty allowed just one hit in one-and-a-third innings of work, while junior Kyle Kramp kept the Cardinals hitless over two shutout innings. Winning pitcher Brad Schnitzer (3-0) gave up one hit in two innings, and junior Chase Byerly allowed one hit in the bottom of the ninth, while picking up his ninth save of the season.
Butler jumped in front in the first inning on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by sophomore Marcos Calderon. Butler starter Dom Silvestri cruised through the first two innings, but ran into trouble in the third.
The Cardinals (7-22) turned six hits, one walk and one Butler error into a six-run rally to take command of the contest. Leichty replaced the Butler starter and recorded the final out of the inning.
Butler trimmed the margin to 6-4 with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, aided by a pair of Ball State errors, and a single run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Gelwicks.
Lucas Calderon, Marcos Calderon and Nick Hladek each had two hits to spark Butler's 10-hit attack. Gelwicks finished with three RBIs, and Risi added a pair.
The Bulldogs, who improved to 7-1 during mid-week games, will begin a three-game Horizon League series on Friday, April 13. The first game at Bulldog Park will start at 3 p.m.