INDIANAPOLIS - Right-hander Billy Laing struck out 11 and threw 7.0 shutout innings but IPFW scored twice in the 9th to beat the Butler baseball team 2-1 on Sunday. It was the third one-run game between the two teams, as Butler and IPFW split a close doubleheader on Saturday.
Laing, making his first start of the season, cruised through the IPFW lineup three times, allowing two hits and no walks. He faced just three more than the minimum and allowed just one baserunner to advance past first base. And that runner reached on an error.
Butler couldn't find run support for Laing, but appeared to be in control when senior outfielder Jack Dillon blasted an 0-2 pitch out to left to give BU a 1-0 lead. Butler took that lead into the top of the 9th, and that's when IPFW came alive.
The leadoff man walked, and with one out VanSumeren hit a single to the outfield. After another strikeout by Will Schierholz, Shepherd smacked a two-run double to center. IPFW had taken the lead.
The Mastodons (4-5) could've had a third run but Dillon came up big again, this time in the field. He took Marcus Kalber's single in left field and threw out Shepherd at the plate.
Butler loaded the bases in the bottom of the 9th but couldn't score the tying run. Dillon singled with two outs and Patrick Guinane walked. Senior Bob Akin then leaned into a wild pitch to get on, loading the bases. The final out was a fly ball to center field.
For the series, Butler's starting pitching allowed just one run over 21 innings and struck out 23. Laing, Eric Stout and Kyle Kramp each pitched 7.0 innings. IPFW had just 13 hits in the series, but found enough timely ones to win two out of three.
"Our starting pitchers were spectacular this weekend - maybe the best three games in a row I've ever seen at Butler," head coach Steve Farley said. "Giving up only three walks all weekend is amazing. Unfortunately, our hitters also had a very anemic weekend with the bats. We hit some balls hard but not enough to give us a chance to win. Our hitters carried us last weekend at Lipscomb and our pitching was very good this weekend. Now we need to put them together."
Butler (5-7) returns to the field this week against defending national champion Arizona. The Bulldogs have two games in Tucson, Ariz., March 12-13.