RICHMOND, Va. - The Butler baseball team is 3-0 in Atlantic 10 play after sweeping a weekend series at VCU. The Bulldogs won Saturday's doubleheader 4-3 and 7-4.
Starting pitchers Kyle Kramp and Billy Laing gave a pair of quality starts and senior Chase Byerly closed each victory. He picked up three saves against Rams, throwing 4.0 shutout innings over the weekend.
"I'm really proud of our team. To sweep a very good VCU team on the road is quite an accomplishment," head coach Steve Farley said. "Our starting pitchers all gave us solid performances and Chase was money at the end of all three games."
The Bulldogs (11-10) jumped on the home team early with a pair of runs in the top of the 1st inning. Senior Jimmy Risi smacked an RBI single and another senior, Jack Dillon, walked and scored on an error. Risi and Dillon would each score two more runs as Butler took a 4-0 lead in the top of the 3rd.
VCU was able to chip away, but Kramp and the Bulldog bullpen held. The Rams scored one run each in the 4th and 5th frames to make it 4-3, but Kramp kept working out of jams. His last out in the 6th came when he picked off a runner at 2nd base when the Rams had two runners on.
Will Schierholz and Byerly combined for three shutout innings and gave up just one hit. Kramp yielded three runs on nine hits and struck out four to move his record to 5-0.
The second game saw more strong pitching out of BU. As VCU's Seth Greene retired nine of the first 10 batters he saw, Laing matched Greene inning-for-inning. The two starters each had a shutout going until Butler found a pair of runs in the top of the 4th. Seniors Lucas Calderon and Radley Haddad drove in a run with an RBI single and a sac fly, respectively, to give the Dawgs a 2-0 lead.
Butler extended the lead to 5-0 during a strange top of the 6th. After Dillon led off the inning with a single, Risi reached on catcher's interference. After a sac bunt by senior Pat Gelwicks, the next three batters hit singles to score Dillon and Risi. Lucas Calderon singled and scored and junior Marco Caponi was hit by a pitch.
Laing worked 6.0 shutout innings before VCU found its stroke the fourth time through the lineup. All four of the Rams' runs came in the bottom of the 7th. Schierholz and Kyle Allen navigated the inning and turned it over to Byerly, who didn't allow a hit in preserving the win.
Lucas Calderon drove in five runs in a 3-for-4 effort. His two-run double in the 9th gave the Bulldogs late insurance runs. Dillon and sophomore Michael Fries each scored two runs.
"Lucas Calderon had an outstanding day today in our doubleheader," Farley said. "He made all the plays in the field from his second base position and he had a couple of huge clutch hits. All of the games were hard fought and our guys competed every inning for the entire weekend."
Butler is scheduled to play its first game at Bulldog Park this spring Wednesday, March 26 against Wabash. The Bulldogs have another conference road series next weekend at St. Bonaventure.