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3/14: Western Michigan at Butler – 3:30 PM (Bishop Chatard)
3/15: Western Michigan at Butler – 1:00 PM (Bulldog Park)
3/15: Western Michigan at Butler – 3:30 PM (Bulldog Park)
INDIANAPOLIS – The Bulldogs will face Western Michigan in a three-game series this weekend beginning with a Friday afternoon tilt at Bishop Chatard High School. First pitch between the Bulldogs and Broncos is set for 3:30 p.m.
Scouting Western Michigan (7-7)
The Broncos enter the weekend with a 7-7 record after winning their last three games at the Snowbird Classic. The three highly contested games featured Western Michigan earning wins vs. Northeastern, Maine and Georgetown.
Winners of five-straight, the Broncos have steadily improved over the early stages of the season after taking on two tough opponents early in the year. The team played at Memphis opening weekend losing their first three games 3-2, 4-2, and 5-2. WMU went on to play No. 7 Louisville in their second series of the 2014 season where they won one of three games. The Cardinals recorded 21-8 and 8-0 wins, but Western Michigan stole game three 4-2.
Port Charlotte, Fla. has been a home away from home for Western Michigan as the Broncos have played eight games in the Snowbird Classic. Additional opponents there included St. Bonaventure, Nebraska-Omaha, Lehigh and Boston College.
The weekend pitching rotation for Western Michigan will feature Steve Laudicina, Chad Mayle, and Keegan Akin. Akin has the best numbers of the trio with a 2-0 record in three starts. He posts a 2.18 ERA and has 13 strikeouts in just over 20 innings pitched. The team's strikeout leader is Laudicina (22) who also leads the team in innings pitched (24.1). Laudicina is 1-1 on the hill with an ERA of 3.33.
Hoekstra Named MAC West Player of the Week
Western Michigan sophomore second baseman Kurt Hoekstra was named the Mid-American Conference West Player of the Week on March 10. Hoekstra went a 9-for-17 at the plate for a .529 batting average. He posted a .706 slugging percentage, a .579 on base percentage, three doubles, four RBIs, five runs scored, 12 total bases and was 1-for-1 in stolen base attempts. He hit safely in all four games, extending his current hitting streak to a career-best and team season-high 10 games.
Hoekstra currently leads Western Michigan in batting average (.455), runs scored, hits, doubles, slugging percentage (.591), on base percentage (.500), and total bases. Hoekstra has started 11 of 14 games for the Broncos this season and hit safely in all 11 starts, collecting multiple hits in six of those.
Chris Maranto led Butler in the two-game series at Mercer this week. The sophomore started in each game and went 3-for-6 from the plate. Solid pitching was the theme of the series as only one extra base hit was recorded between the two teams. Marcos Calderon and Marcos Caponi were responsible for the Butler RBIs, but it was a quiet two games as Butler hit just .197 as a team.
Kyle Allen and Gunner Johnson took losses on the mound for Butler. Johnson tossed 5.1 innings and struck out three batters, but he walked five which resulted in two runs scored. Jeff Schank was the team's strikeout leader as he sat down four Bears in 5.2 innings pitched.
Laing Earns BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week Honors
Billy Laing was tabbed BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week by the conference office on Tuesday, March 11. The senior right-hander recorded his first two saves of the season as the Bulldogs posted a 4-0 record last week at home.
Laing recorded his first two saves for the season, shutting the door for the Bulldogs on a pair of victories against IPFW. After tossing an inning of perfect relief in a 9-3 Butler win in the opener against IPFW, he tossed two innings while allowing one hit and one walk while striking out three to earn the save in a 6-4 win. He finished off the series sweep for the Bulldogs by pitching the ninth in a wild 10-9 victory.
Need for Speed
Western Michigan has two players that Butler will need to keep an eye on in Andrew Sohn and Jared Kujawa. Sohn leads the team in steals with five and is second on the team in triples with three. The pair flip-flop as Kujawa is second on the team in steals, but first in triples with four.
Home Sweet Home
Butler is a perfect 4-0 at home this season. The 'Dogs 5-9 overall record breaks down with a 1-3 mark on neutral fields and an 0-6 record while playing as visitors.
Power at the Plate
Will Amador has hit the ground running as a Bulldog by leading the team in multiple statistical categories. His .366 batting average and .610 slugging percentage are tops on the team. His high averages produce powerful results as Amador has a team-high five doubles, a triple and one home run to post seven RBIs.
Butler will play a mid-week game at Purdue on Wednesday, March 19 before heading out to Western Illinois for a three-game weekend series at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium.