May 19, 2008
The First Pitch: Butler opens up the 2008 Horizon League Championship on Tuesday (May 20) as the No. 7 seed and will take on sixth-seeded Valparaiso in a single-elimination game beginning at 3:00 p.m. at Eastwood Field in Niles, Ohio. A win by the Bulldogs would send them into the double-elimination portion of the tournament and pit them against No. 3 seed and host Youngstown State on Wednesday (May 21) at 3:00 p.m.
A Look At The Season Series: Valpo claimed two of three games from the Bulldogs in the teams' only meeting this season on April 25-26. Offense was not in short supply during the weekend series that featured 17 homers and 65 runs scored between the two squads. Colin Ziegel led the way at the plate with a .571 average (8-for-14), three home runs and three doubles, while Joe Pauley tied a single-game school record with three homers and 13 total bases en route to four home runs and a .467 average.
Butler Rallies For DH Sweep Of CSU: Butler rallied for five unanswered runs to score a 5-1 win in the opening game of a double-header against Cleveland State before roaring back from a five-run deficit in the finale with late-inning, eight-run surge to claim an 8-5 victory over the Vikings on Saturday (May 17) at Bulldog Park. The sweep gave the team its first Horizon League series win since claiming two of three games from Youngstown State on March 21 and 22.
Kruszing To A Win: Junior Ryan Kruszka picked up the Bulldogs' first win of the day against Cleveland State on Saturday (May 17). After working through some wildness in the first two innings, the right-hander shut down the Viking offense, allowing just two singles in his final six frames. It eight innings pitched, he yielded just three hits and one earned run while striking out five.
Power Surge: Not too many players in the Horizon League have had a hotter bat in the last month than Joe Pauley. The Skokie, Ill., native has belted nine home runs in the last 17 games to bring his season total to a league-high 12. All but one of his homers have come against league opponents, helping to give the senior shortstop a whopping .774 slugging percentage in conference play.
Saving The Best For Last: Joe Pauley's 12 home runs this season are not only a single-season high for the senior but are three more than he had hit in his entire career prior to this year. His 2008 total is nine shy of Eric Storey's school-record 21 home runs hit in 1999.
Bringing The Hits: Kyle Schultz has arguably been the Bulldogs' most reliable bat in the lineup this season. The sophomore third baseman leads the team and ranks fourth in the Horizon League with a .381 batting average and with a .463 on base percentage.
Not Your Average Joe: Senior shortstop Joe Pauley has been one of the Bulldogs' top offensive players in his three-plus seasons. This year, he leads the team with 36 runs scored, but his career totals are among the best in school history. With 140 career runs scored, he is now 10 shy of the all-time mark (150).
All Good Streaks Must Come To An End: Junior left-hander Joe Ochs has arguably been the Bulldogs' most effective pitcher this season. Heading into Tuesday's contest at Indiana, the southpaw had not allowed an earned run in 26.2 consecutive innings, including a stretch of 21.2 scoreless frames. The streak would come to an end at an even 27 innings against the Hoosiers, however, as IU got a one-out RBI triple in the first inning. Ochs currently leads the Bulldogs with three wins on the year and has yielded just six walks while striking out 19.
Unexpected Power Sources: Seniors Ryan Neat and Nate Hart must have spent some extra time in the weight room, because the duo has added a power threat to their hitting repertoire. After going without a home run in their first three seasons, the duo has combined for five long balls in 2008. Neat homered for the first time at Kentucky on March 1 before going yard against Youngstown State (March 21) and Marian (April 2). Hart, meanwhile, picked up his first career deep fly at Milwaukee on May 10 before adding another at Indiana just three days later.
Rookie Sensation: Freshman Grant Fillipitch has gotten off to a fast start to his collegiate career. The first-year third baseman currently ranks fourth on the team with a .276 batting average and with 18 RBI. Fillipitch has also already etched his name in the Butler record book thanks to an impressive five-hit performance against Indiana Tech on April 8, which tied the single-game mark and made him just the 12th player in school history to collect five hits in a game.
Catching Thieves: Base-runners beware when playing Butler. The Bulldogs have caught 28 would-be base stealers this season, the third-most in the league. Freshman Michael Letzter leads the team in the category, nailing nine runners on the year.
League Of Their Own: Butler has found much more success at the plate in Horizon League play than it did during the non-conference slate. In 21 non-league games, the Bulldogs have posted a .235 batting average, while Butler touts an even .298 average in 24 conference contests.
One Run Away: The Bulldogs have battled Horizon League opponents in a lot of close games this season, but, unfortunately, they have come out on the short end in most of them. Butler is 2-7 in one-run games during league play, with both victories coming in 5-4 wins against Youngstown State on March 21 and on April 19.
Pauley Has A Day: There may not have been a more impressive display of hitting in a Butler baseball game than the one that senior Joe Pauley put on in the first contest of a doubleheader at Valparaiso on April 26. In his first four at bats of the game, the Bulldog shortstop went 4-for-4 with three home runs - including a pair of three-run bombs - before finishing the contest with seven RBI and a whopping 13 total bases. His home run and total base figures are tied for the Butler record with Gordon Hansen, who posted identical totals against Southeast Missouri State in 1983.
That's What I Call Run Support: Butler's 22 runs scored against Milwaukee on Saturday (March 29) were the most in a single game since scoring 24 runs against Detroit in 2003.
Mr. 1,000: When the second game of the Bulldogs' double-header against UIC on April 5 became official in the fifth inning, Butler head coach Steve Farley had formally gone where few college coaches have gone before. The contest marked the 1,000th game on the bench for the 19-year veteran and was the mentor's 900th game coached in his 17 seasons at Butler.
On Deck: The Horizon League Tournament continues through Sunday (May 25), with the champion earning the league's automatic bid to an NCAA Regional. Butler last earned the title in 2000.