Indianapolis, Ind. - Freshman right-hander Mike Hernandez pitched another gem and sophomore Grant Fillipitch provided all the offense the Bulldogs would need, as Butler held off visiting Youngstown State in the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday (April 26) afternoon at Bulldog Park. Butler would rally from three runs down late in the second game of the twin-bill to force extra frames, but the Penguins picked up the winning run in the top of the 10th to hold on for a 6-5 decision.
The Bulldogs closed out their busy weekend - playing four games in two days - with a split in the series against Cleveland State and Youngstown State.
Butler jumped for a 1-0 lead in the first inning of the opener thanks to some small ball and savvy base-running. Rick Betsch led off the frame with a single up the middle before taking second on a sacrifice bunt by Luke Duncan. A groundout to second by Fillipitch allowed Betsch to move on to third before a wild pitch cleared the way for the Butler centerfielder to scamper home with the first run of the game.
Fillipitch would add to the lead with a runner on in the third, hitting the first pitch he saw deep over the right-center field fence for his fifth home run of the season and a 3-0 Butler advantage.
Meanwhile, Hernandez held the Penguins in check, allowing just a single run in the fifth inning while scattering eight hits.
After YSU cut the Butler lead to 3-1 with a run in the fifth, Fillipitch earned the run back with a two-out RBI double down the right field line that scored Betsch all the way from first.
Hernandez picked up the win, going 7.1 innings with four strikeouts and two walks allowed. Ryan Kruszka earned the save with a scoreless ninth inning.
Fillipitch finished with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate with three RBI, while Betsch went 2-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored. Michael Letzter also picked up two hits in the game.
Butler had to play catch-up throughout the nightcap, eventually drawing even in the ninth thanks to a big two-run hit by Duncan, but YSU would hold on for the win thanks to a two-out RBI single in the 10th.
Finding themselves in a 5-2 hole through seven innings, the Bulldogs cut into the lead in the eighth. A bases-loaded, two-out wild pitch by Youngstown State allowed Fillipitch to score from third to pull Butler to within two runs, but the Bulldogs could do no more damage in the frame.
Leading 5-3, Youngstown State would get two quick outs in the ninth before Jason Jamerson kept the inning going with a walk. Betsch followed with a free pass of his own to put runners on first and second, prompting the Penguins to pull their starting pitcher, who was vying for the complete game victory.
The new pitcher was greeted with a rather rude welcoming, as Duncan drilled a 1-1 offering deep to the gap in left center that allowed both runners to score the tying runs ahead of the right-fielder sliding into third for a triple.
Duncan's potential winning run would be stranded at third, however, and the Penguins quickly regained the lead on a two-out RBI single in the 10th before getting three-straight outs in the bottom of the frame for the win.
YSU took an early lead in the first inning, scoring twice on four hits off starting pitcher Jared Wagoner.
The Butler righty would settle in over the next five innings, holding the Penguins scoreless on five hits. The Bulldog bats, meanwhile, rallied back to tie the game at 2-2, as Kyle Schultz picked up an RBI single in the fourth before dropping down a run-scoring bunt in the sixth.
The Penguins would take advantage of some costly fielding errors by the Bulldogs in the seventh, however, as the first two YSU batters reached base on mishandled plays that led to three unearned runs crossing home for a 5-2 lead.
Wagoner went seven solid innings for the Bulldogs, allowing just two earned runs while striking out five and walking two. David Dennemann relieved and pitched two scoreless frames.
Betsch and Letzter picked up two hits apiece, Duncan and Schultz each drove in a pair and Fillipitch scored twice.
The Bulldogs will have over a week off from competition before heading to Cincinnati, Ohio, on May 6 for a seven-inning doubleheader with the Bearcats starting at 4:00 p.m.