INDIANAPOLIS - In a game that had no shortage of controversy and momentum-changing plays, the Butler baseball team pulled out an 8-7 win in 11 innings over Fordham on Saturday.
The winning run crossed the plate when senior Jimmy Risi came to bat in the 11th with runners on the corners and one out. Risi, Butler's best power hitter, put down a bunt to the left side and Patrick Guinane broke for home. Guinane slid head-first in a close play to complete the squeeze play and earn the Bulldogs a walk-off conference win.
"I almost had to step out and get the sign again," Risi said while rolling his fingers, citing his surprise at the call by head coach Steve Farley. "But it was definitely a good play call."
The Bulldogs (21-18, 9-5) found themselves down 7-6 after Dan Sorine doubled and scored in the top of the 11th. Junior Marcos Calderon started the game-winning rally with a double, followed by Guinane with an infield single. Sophomore Michael Fries, who hit a two-run home run on Friday, pushed an RBI single to right to tie the game. Risi's squeeze play moments later sent the Bulldogs into celebration. The last four batters of the game reached base for BU to win their fourth straight game.
Sophomore Kyle Allen pitched 5.0 innings of long relief and received a no-decision, yet deserves much credit for keeping the Bulldogs in the game. Allen entered with nobody out in the top of the 3rd and promptly induced a double play and then struck out Brendan Maghini to get out of the inning. At that point, Fordham (15-30, 2-12) had built a 5-0 lead.
The Dawgs took advantage of a Fordham defensive mistake in the bottom of the 3rd to get three of those runs back. With two outs, freshman Mike Kseniak lifted an easy, playable foul ball to the right side. Three Rams players gave chase and the pitcher and first baseman collided, allowing the ball to fall harmlessly on the ground. Moments later, Kseniak stroked an RBI single and ran to second on a throwing error. Fries then walked and Risi clubbed a two-run triple to cut the lead to 5-3.
Fordham led 6-3 when the Bulldogs found a way to tie the game in the bottom of the 7th. Marcos Calderon scored on a wild pitch and Kseniak pulled a two-run double to left to tie the game 6-6.
Risi and Kseniak each went 2-for-5 with three RBIs. Freshman Nick Bartolone went 2-for-3 with a double and scored two runs.
Fordham third baseman Ian Edmiston went 4-for-5 with a walk and Sorine and Mike Mauri each had three hits. The Rams wasted a great start by Chris Pike, who pitched 7.0 innings. Pike struck out 12, walked four and scattered six Butler hits. Had he not collided with Maghini on that foul ball, he may have thrown a shutout and Fordham would've won in nine innings.
Two players, one from each team, were ejected and there was a timeout to check and see if a bat used by Butler was legal by NCAA standards. After a review in the pressbox, the bat was indeed ruled legal.
Senior lefty Kevin Lenkman will start for the Dawgs Sunday when Butler and Fordham conclude their three-game set. Jimmy Murphy will start for the Rams.