April 13, 2009

Baseball Hosts SIUE Wednesday At Bulldog Park

April 13, 2009

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The First Pitch: The Bulldogs close out their stretch of five home games in nine days when they welcome Southern Illinois-Edwardsville to Indianapolis on Wednesday (April 15) beginning at 3:00 p.m. at Bulldog Park. Butler then travels to Lorain, Ohio, for a three-game set with Cleveland State at The Pipe Yard. The Bulldogs face the Vikings in a single game on Friday (April 17) starting at 6:00 p.m. before playing a twin-bill on Saturday (April 18) beginning at 12:00 noon.

Butler Shuts Down Wabash: Starting pitcher Mike Hernandez held visiting Wabash scoreless on just three hits through seven innings, Tyler Tepe and Jared Wagoner closed the door in relief and the Butler offense struck for five runs in the first three innings to post a workman-like, 5-0, victory over the Little Giants on Tuesday (April 7) afternoon at Bulldog Park. Butler collected 11 hits in the affair - including seven in the first three frames - to generate all of its offense in the early going. Hernandez worked a dominant 7.0 innings in his first collegiate start, allowing just two infield singles through the first six frames while not allowing a runner past second base. Tepe and Wagoner added scoreless innings in relief.

...Before Slugging Its Way Past IPFW: Freshman Blaine DeCamp tied a Butler record with five hits and the Bulldogs jumped for season-highs with 18 runs and 16 hits en route to a 18-7 thumping of host IPFW on Wednesday (April 8) afternoon at Mastodon Field. Butler broke open a 4-4 contest through four innings by scoring 14 over the next three frames - including eight in the seventh inning alone.

Dominant Pitching: Freshman right-hander Mike Hernandez didn't have a start to his credit at the start of last week, but the Crown Point, Ind., native will likely be seeing a whole lot of starts after his impressive performance. Hernandez allowed just three hits in seven shut-out innings against Wabash while picking up his first career victory in his first collegiate start before yielding just one earned run on five hits while striking out nine and walking none in seven innings against UIC. He finished the week with a 0.64 ERA, 12 strikeouts, one walk and a .170 opponent batting average in 14 innings.

...And Record-Setting Hitting: Rookie Blaine DeCamp put together a record-setting performance at the plate against IPFW last week. The Columbus, Ind., native became just the 12th player in Butler history to pick up five hits in a game, going 5-for-7 with four runs scored and a pair of RBI. He led the team last week with a .588 batting average in four games, scoring six times.

Coach Farley's Thoughts: "We felt we got some momentum with two mid-week wins over Wabash and IPFW, and our pitching staff kept us in the games on Saturday against a very good UIC team. Freshman Mike Hernandez had two quality starts this past week and Jeff Sinkiewicz pitched effectively in relief. We struggled on the mound on Sunday, and that was disappointing. For the series, the UIC pitching staff threw a lot more strikes than we did, and we have to show improvement in that area. Blaine DeCamp had an impressive string of hits during our mid-week games, and guys like Kyle Schultz, Rick Betsch, Grant Fillipitch and Mike Letzter have been taking some good swings. We play well in spurts, but we need each player to compete for nine innings in every game. We continue to challenge our team to keep a positive mental attitude and to make the most of the opportunities they have. "

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 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: 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 starting at 4:00 p.m.

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 1,150-1,355-11 (.459) all-time record, eight conference championships and a pair of NCAA tournament appearances.

Walk This Way: Butler hitters have been the most patient in the Horizon League this season, as the Bulldogs lead the conference with 121 walks drawn in 32 games for an average of 3.8 per contest.

...But Setting Them Down On The Other Side: While the Butler hitters have been a model of patience at the plate in the conference, the Bulldog pitching staff has made opposing hitters look much more off-balance. Butler pitchers have combined to record a league-high 195 strikeouts this season for an average of over six per contest.

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.

Control Freak: Freshman righty Mike Hernandez leads the Bulldogs and ranks ninth in the Horizon League with 31 strikeouts this season and is third in the conference in fewest walks allowed with seven. His 4.4 strikeouts-to-walks ratio is tops in the Horizon League.

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.

Bulldog Park Renovations: Bulldog Park, home of the Butler baseball team, has undergone 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 nearing completion, as the exterior walls and roof have been completely installed an work has begun on the interior.

On Deck: Butler treks north to West Lafayette, Ind., when it takes on host Purdue on Wednesday, April 22 beginning at 4:00 p.m. The Bulldogs then host a pair of noon doubleheaders over the weekend against league opponents, as Butler battles Cleveland State in two games on Saturday, April 25, before facing Youngstown State in a pair on Sunday, April 26.