April 20, 2009

Baseball Hosts CSU, YSU In Four Games This Weekend

April 20, 2009

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The First Pitch: Butler opens up the week on the road with a single non-conference contest at Purdue on Wednesday (April 22) beginning at 4:00 p.m. at Lambert Field in West Lafayette, Ind. The Bulldogs then play four games in two days at home this weekend, taking on Cleveland State in a doubleheader on Saturday (April 25) at noon before hosting Youngstown State the following day (April 26) at noon.

You Again?: All three opponents this week will be facing Butler for the second time this season. Cleveland State was the most recent foe, hosting the Bulldogs in a three-game series just this past weekend. Butler also hosted Purdue in a single game back on March 11 and took on Youngstown State in a three-game set in Niles, Ohio, from April 4-5.

Bulldogs Pick Up Win In Finale At CSU: Butler rallied from a two-run deficit late for five runs in the seventh before holding on for a 9-8 victory in the series finale against Cleveland State on Saturday (April 18) afternoon at The Pipe Yard. In a game in which both teams traded the lead four times, the Bulldogs used a five-run seventh inning to put them in front by three at 9-6. The Vikings picked up a run in the eighth and added another in the ninth before Butler closed out the contest. Jamie Feldheiser picked up the win in relief, with a solo homer in the eighth his only blemish in an otherwise perfect 2.2 innings. Ryan Kruszka notched the save in the ninth.

Mon-Tagging The Ball: Alex Montagano had quite a day at the plate in the doubleheader at Cleveland State on Saturday (April 18). The Valparaiso, Ind., native went 3-for-4 in the opening contest before going 3-for-5 with an RBI in the night-cap. He finished the week batting a team-high .538 (7-for-13) in the three-game series against the Vikings.

Powering Up: Sophomore third baseman Grant Fillipitch continued to flex his muscles over the weekend, mashing his team-leading third and fourth home runs of the season against the Vikings. He finished with week with 11 total bases and a team-best .688 slugging percentage.

Going At Least Seven: The Bulldogs received strong outings from their starters in three of their four contests last week. Jeff Sinkiewicz (8.1 innings), Mike Hernandez (7.2) and Jared Wagoner (7.0) each pitched at least seven innings in their starts. Prior to this week, Butler had just three other starts of seven innings or more, including a nine-inning complete game win by Ryan Kruszka and a pair of seven-inning outings by Hernandez.

Great Start, Tough Finish: Senior right-handed pitcher Jeff Sinkiewicz put together an impressive start against SIU-Edwardsville last week, holding the Cougars to just one run on four hits while striking out four through the first eight innings. SIUE finally got to the Granger, Ind., native in the ninth, however, scoring four runs on four hits en route to a 7-1 decision.

Coach Farley's Thoughts: "The Cleveland State games were all hard fought. As usual in the Horizon League, each game comes down to somebody making a great defensive play or a guy getting a clutch hit. In the two close games we lost, I felt we beat ourselves. A walk, an error or a hit batter seemed to play a part in each run that CSU scored. You can't give a Division I team more than three outs per inning, and we didn't take advantage of opportunities when we had them. The series finale on Saturday was a pressure packed game, with the momentum going back and forth all game long. Our guys hung tough and got some big hits in key situations. This week will be very challenging as our players try to keep their focus on baseball with final exams only a week away. We play five games in five days, so our pitching staff will be tested. Our team can beat anybody on our schedule if we play with heart and determination."

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 1,151-1,358-11 (.459) all-time record, eight conference championships and a pair of NCAA tournament appearances.

Control Freak: Freshman righty Mike Hernandez has been the Horizon League's most accurate pitcher so far this season. The Crown Point, Ind., native leads the conference with an incredible a 5.0 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He paces the team and ranks ninth in the league with 40 strikeouts this season and is third in the conference in fewest walks allowed with eight. Hernandez has been Butler's most effective pitcher of late, working at least seven innings and boasting a 2.08 ERA in his last three starts.

Walk This Way: Butler hitters have been the most patient in the Horizon League this season, as the Bulldogs lead the conference with 141 walks drawn in 36 games for an average of 3.9 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 220 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.

Record-Setting Hitting: Rookie Blaine DeCamp put together a record-setting performance at the plate against IPFW on April 8. 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.

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: The Bulldogs follow up a busy weekend with by far the slowest week of the season, as Butler takes a break from action for final exams. The team resumes play the following Wednesday (May 6) when it battles host Cincinnati in a pair of seven-inning contests beginning at 4:00 p.m.