Lorain, Ohio - Butler starting pitcher Mike Hernandez put up a gutsy showing on the hill and the visiting Bulldogs rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits late, but a two-run eighth inning by host Cleveland State provided the difference in a 5-3 Viking decision on Friday (April 17) evening at The Pipe Yard.
Hernandez allowed just four earned runs while scattering 13 hits in 7.2 innings of work and stifled several potentially big scoring opportunities by the Vikings - including a bases-loaded situation in the seventh - before CSU cashed in on a two-out, two-run single in the eighth.
Cleveland State took a 2-0 lead in the game after scoring single runs in both the second and third innings. Butler bounced back in the fourth and fifth, however, plating solo runs in each frame.
Grant Fillipitch led off the fourth with a double to right before Kyle Schultz traded places two batters later with an RBI two-bagger down the left field line. The Bulldogs had a chance to increase the damage, loading the bases with two down, but CSU induced an inning-ending groundout.
Fillipitch provided the offense again in the fifth, as the sophomore third baseman belted his team-leading third home run of the season with two outs.
CSU regained the lead in their half of the fifth, but the Bulldogs again answered the call, scoring the tying mark in the seventh with some clutch two-out hitting. Luke Duncan lined a single to center and moved to second on a balk before sprinting home on an RBI base hit up the middle by Alex Montagano.
The Vikings appeared to be on the verge of taking the lead once again in the seventh, loading the bases after the first two batters were set down, but Hernandez worked out of the jam with an inning-ending force out at the plate.
The Butler right-hander would set down the first two batters of the eight on strikes, but CSU worked a single, walk and two-run base hit to plate the winning runs.
Hernandez finished with nine strikeouts in the contest while walking just one batter.
The Bulldogs return to action on Saturday (April 18) when they battle Cleveland State in a doubleheader beginning at 12:00 noon at The Pipe Yard.