Bulldogs Split WIth A-10 Leader

Cassie Rupel

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. -- Sophomore Cassie Rupel drove in two clutch runs and freshman Kristin Gutierrez turned in another complete-game pitching gem to lift Butler to a 5-2 victory over Saint Joseph's and a doubleheader split with the Atlantic 10 Conference leader on Saturday (April 20).  Saint Joseph's captured the opener at the Butler Softball Field, 5-4.

Rupel broke a 2-2 tie with a run-scoring ground out in the fourth inning of the nightcap, and she later drove in an insurance run in the sixth inning. 

Gutierrez pitched her fourth straight complete game and picked up her fourth consecutive victory.

"What can you say.  She's not going to go out there and wow you with 15-20 strikeouts.  She's just going to hit her spots and let her defense help her," stated Butler head coach Scott Hall of his freshman left-hander.  "She just keeps getting better every outing.  She doesn't get rattled.  She's showing great poise for a freshman.

The split left Butler at 18-20 on the season and 7-5 in the A-10.  Saint Joseph's, which held off a late charge by the Bulldogs to win the opener, lost for just the fifth time this season and for just the second time in A-10 play.  The Hawks boast a league-best 27-5-1 overall record and a league-leading 10-2 A-10 mark.

"Overall, I was happy with the split.  The first game was a little frustrating for all of us.  We didn't adjust very well, but we put a good fight up at the end and used that momentum to kick-start us in the second game," added Hall.

Prior to the first game of the twinbill, Butler paid tribute to four senior members of the squad - Devin Dearing, Jenny Esparza, Meaghan Sullivan and Devin Brierly.  The four, completing their final season with the Bulldogs, have helped Butler to 111 wins, including a single season record 36 wins in 2010.

The Bulldogs will continue their current homestand with a conference doubleheader against Temple on Sunday, April 21.  The first game of that twinbill at the Butler Softball Field will start at noon.

GAME 1 - Saint Joseph's 5, Butler 4

Butler rallied with three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and had the tying run on second base when Saint Joseph's recorded the final out.  The Bulldogs, held to just two hits through the first five innings came up with four runs on three hits in the final two frames to challenge the A-10 leader.

The Hawks jumped in front in the second inning with a single run off of Esparza, who was starting her 14th game of the season, and then stretched the margin to 2-0 on a solo home run by Monica Aguilar in the fifth.  That lead grew to 5-0 in the sixth when Saint Joseph's scored three runs on two hits, two walks and one Butler error.

But the Bulldogs weren't done.  Back-to-back hit batters and a single by Audrey East loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth.  A ground out by Dearing brought home Butler's first run, but that was all the Bulldogs could manage.

Sullivan, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter, led off Butler's final at-bat with a single, and Megan Gray, who came on as pinch-hitter, was hit by a pitch.  Callie Dennison, Butler's third consecutive pinch-hitter, walked to load the bases with no outs.

Butler scored its first run of the inning when Krosley Ogden grounded out to shortstop, and Carrie Tveita followed with a single to plate Butler's second run.  The final run scored when Sarah Gronowski, running for Tveita, stole second and the throwing attempt to get her sailed into centerfield.  But Saint Joseph's starter Taryn Ashway regrouped and retired Butler's next to batters to end the game.

Ashway improved to 22-1 on the season.

GAME 2 - Butler 5, Saint Joseph's 2

Gutierrez allowed just three hits and retired 13 of the final 14 batters she faced, while improving to 6-9 on the season.  She had five strikeouts and walked just one in her seven innings of work.

Butler took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Audrey East's fourth home run of the season.  East caught a fastball from Saint Joseph's starter Liz Mendez and sailed it over the leftfield foul pole.

The Hawks answered with a pair of runs in the third inning.  A lead-off double by Rochelle Christman and a hit-batter by Gutierrez set the stage for a two-run single by Nicole Palase.  But Gutierrez took charge from there.  The Hawks only had one player reach base in the final four innings, and Gutierrez retired the final nine batters she faced.

Butler tied the game in the fourth inning on a run-scoring single by Riley Carter, and the Bulldogs then took the lead for good when Krista Hakola scored on a ground-out by Rupel.  The Bulldogs added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Carter led the Bulldogs with a pair of hits in the game, while Rupel finished with two RBIs.