April 6, 2009

Baseball Hosts Four Games This Week

April 6, 2009

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The First Pitch: The Bulldogs will play four of five games this week at home, as Butler opens up with a single game against Wabash on Tuesday (April 7) beginning at 3:00 p.m. at Bulldog Park. Butler then travels to Fort Wayne, Ind., for a non-league contest against IPFW starting at 3:00 p.m. before returning home to host reigning Horizon League Champion UIC in a three-game series over the weekend. The two teams open up with a single game on Friday (April 10) starting at 3:00 p.m. before closing the slate with a doubleheader on Saturday (April 11) at noon.

Watching The Weather: Should the Bulldogs' contest against Wabash on Tuesday be washed out due to the weather conditions, the game will likely be made up later in the season. Stay tuned to www.ButlerSports.com for updates on cancellations and schedule changes.

Rain, Rain, Go Away: Such are the challenges of playing baseball in the Midwest. Mother Nature has caused all sorts of problems for the Bulldogs this season. After having its March 1 game against Saint Louis cancelled due to cold weather, Butler's three-game set at Wright State was moved up a day due to impending rain, with the final game of the series starting at 9:30 a.m. Just last week, the Bulldogs' contest against Dayton at Victory Field on Tuesday (March 31) had to be stopped after five innings due to heavy rain, while that same storm cell forced Butler's three-game series at Youngstown State to be delayed a day. With more rain and snow in the forecast for this week, the Bulldogs' schedule could very well be seeing even more changes before it is all said and done.

Schedule Changes: In addition to the recent scheduling of Wabash, Butler's game at the University of Indianapolis on April 28 has been cancelled due to UIndy's conflicts with final exams. The Bulldogs' single nine-inning contest at Cincinnati on May 6, meanwhile, has been changed to a double-header with two seven-inning games set to begin at 4:00 p.m.

Home Again: After spending 19 of its first 27 games away from Bulldog Park, Butler will be able to settle in at home for the next week, hosting five of its next six games. The Bulldogs will then hit the road for four games before playing seven of the next 11 contests in Indianapolis.

A Century Of Butler Baseball: The 2009 campaign will mark the 100th season of baseball at Butler University, a program which dates back to 1901. In 99-plus seasons, the Bulldogs have tallied a 1,148-1,352-11 (.459) all-time record, eight conference championships and a pair of NCAA tournament appearances.

Long Time Coming: The Bulldogs' win at Wright State on Friday (March 27) was the team's first victory over the Raiders in Dayton since scoring a 6-5 decision on March 18, 2006.

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.

Coach Farley's Thoughts: "We are obviously disappointed to be swept in a weekend series, but Youngstown State has a very solid team. They got good pitching from their starters, and they played well on defense all weekend. Our hitters hit the ball hard on Saturday, but YSU made some great plays and kept the momentum on their side. We had eight players and one assistant coach not make the trip this past weekend due to illness or injury, so we have been battling some adversity. Despite a rocky weather forecast, we will hope to get our mid-week games in this week and then we have a very tough UIC team coming in for our league series. All we can do is continue to work hard and try to get better each day. A big part of this game is the mental aspect, and our guys will have to dig deep and show some mental toughness and competitive fire as we move forward."

Duncan Can: Sophomore outfielder Luke Duncan continues to pace the Bulldogs at the plate despite missing the last few games due to injury. The Greenwood, Ind., native boasts a team-best .407 batting average, a .463 slugging percentage and a .475 on base percentage.

Walk This Way: Butler has been one of the more patient teams at the plate this season, ranking second in the Horizon League by drawing 97 walks during the year for an average of 3.6 per contest.

Setting Them Down: The Butler pitching staff is second in the league with 156 strikeouts.

Veteran Authority: Butler head coach Steve Farley, who enters his 18th season at the helm this year, has overseen some of the most successful years in Bulldog baseball history. Under his guidance, Butler claimed three regular season conference titles, two league tournament championships and a pair of NCAA tournament appearances. Currently the most veteran coach in the Horizon League, his 18th season this year will make him the second-longest tenured mentor in program history, trailing only Butler legend Tony Hinkle's 41 seasons. Farley's 431 wins in that time, meanwhile, are the most in school history.

Professional Touch: The Bulldogs will get a small taste of professional baseball this season. Butler hosted Dayton at Victory Field - home of the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians - on March 31 and fell to the Flyers, 10-4, in a rain-shortened five-inning affair. Butler will also take on Horizon League opponent Milwaukee in a double-header at Miller Park - home of the Milwaukee Brewers - in the final week of the season on May 14.

Bulldog Park Renovations: Bulldog Park, home of the Butler baseball team, will be undergoing 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 this spring, 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 taking shape, as the exterior walls and roof have been completely installed an work has begun on the interior.

On Deck: Butler welcomes SIU-Edwardsville to town on Wednesday (April 15) for a single game beginning at 3:00 p.m. at Bulldog Park. The team then heads to Lorain, Ohio, for a three-game series against Horizon League foe Cleveland State. The Bulldogs face the Vikings in a single game on Friday (April 17) starting at 6:00 p.m. before playing a doubleheader on Saturday (April 18) beginning at noon.