GARY, Ind. – Butler had an early 2-0 lead but couldn’t keep it as the Bulldog baseball team lost, 7-3, Wednesday afternoon to Valparaiso in the opener of the Horizon League Baseball Championship. Valpo was spurred by stellar individual performances by Bryce Shafer and Kyle Gaedele. BU will play at 12 p.m. ET in a game where the losing team is done for the year.
Gaedele went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and was a home run short of hitting for the cycle. Gaedele’s biggest play was a diving catch at the center-field warning track in the top of the 3rd. Shafer (7-4) started for the Crusaders and struck out nine over 8.0 innings. He allowed two earned runs on seven hits.
The Bulldogs got to Shafer in the top of the 2nd, scoring a pair of runs on a two-out double to right by junior Luke Duncan.
Valparaiso scored three runs on two walks, two singles and a Bulldog error to take a 3-2 lead. With Shafer rolling (he retired 13 batters in a row at one point), the Crusaders broke the game open with three more runs in the bottom of the 6th. Gaedele sparked the rally with a two-run triple.
Duncan led the Dawgs with a 3-for-5 effort with two RBIs. Juniors Grant Fillipitch and Michael Letzter each had two hits.
Fillipitch easily could’ve had four hits, but he was victim of two outstanding defensive plays. In the 3rd inning just when Butler owned a 2-0 lead, Fillipitch sent a blast to left-center. Gaedele, moving back toward the wall, made a diving catch and stymied Butler’s offensive momentum. Valpo’s Karch Kowalczyk also made a diving play at third base on a shot off Fillipitch’s bat.
Sophomore Mike Hernandez (4-5) took the loss. He worked 6.0 innings, striking out five. Senior Tyler Szymczak threw 2.0 solid innings, allowing a run in the bottom of the 8th.
Butler (21-28), the No. 5 seed in the tournament, will play Thursday, May 27 at 12 p.m. ET (11 Central) against either UIC or Youngstown State.