April 14, 2008
The First Pitch: Butler closes out a five-game home stand on Wednesday (April 16) when it welcomes Big East foe Cincinnati for 3:00 p.m. contest at Bulldog Park. The Bulldogs then hit the road for a pair of Horizon League double-headers, battling Youngstown State in a twin-bill on Saturday (April 19) at 1:00 p.m. before heading west to Cleveland State for a two games on Sunday (April 20) at 1:00 p.m.
Butler Adds Night Game At Louisville On May 7: Butler head coach Steve Farley announced the addition of a non-league game to the upcoming schedule. The Bulldogs will make a return trip to Louisville on May 7 for a 6:00 p.m. contest under the lights at Jim Patterson Stadium. The Bulldogs dropped a 3-2, 11-inning battle to the Cardinals on March 26.
Previewing The Bulldogs: Following a single no-conference contest on Wednesday, Butler returns to the road for league play for double-headers at Youngstown State and Cleveland State. The Bulldog pitching staff continues to be one of the most accurate in the league, boasting the third-fewest walks per game while touting a 1.60 strikeouts to walks ratio. Juniors Ryan Kruszka Jeff Sinkiewicz each put up strong showings against Wright State last weekend, with Kruszka allowing just one run in eight innings and Sinkiewicz yielding two earned runs in eight frames. Junior Joe Ochs leads the team with three wins and has gone 17-straight innings without allowing a run. The offense has continued to improve in league play, boosting its conference-only average to .305 while averaging 6.3 runs per contest. Senior shortstop Joe Pauley leads the squad with a .291 average and 18 runs scored, while outfielder Colin Ziegel boasts a .284 average and a team-high 18 RBI. Senior first baseman Ryan Neat is tied with Pauley for the Butler lead with three home runs and touts a team-best 48 total bases. Head coach Steve Farley, who coached in his 1,000th career game and 900th at Butler earlier this season, is 422-481-1 in his 17th season with the Bulldogs.
Bulldogs Come Up Just Short To WSU: Butler once again put itself in a position to score a couple of wins against a league opponent last weekend, battling Wright State in a pair of close games. Junior Ryan Kruszka pitched the Bulldogs to a 4-1 lead heading into the ninth inning before WSU rallied for four to take the comeback win. Butler tried to turn the tables on the Raiders in the second double-header contest, rallying from a 4-1 ninth-inning deficit to cut the gap to one, but the Bulldogs could get no closer.
Coach Farley's Thoughts: "Wright State has a good team. You can see why quite a few people picked them to win the Horizon League this season. We are obviously disappointed to lose two one-run games, especially in the second game when we had a three-run lead with three outs to go. We haven't shown a `killer instinct' to close games out when we have a lead late in games. Our guys are playing hard, but there is a big difference in playing just bad enough to lose rather than playing just good enough to win. We'll need to show some mental toughness to get ourselves back in the thick of the conference race. We've shown we can play some outstanding baseball, so we need to focus on the positives and get ourselves ready to play a challenging four-game weekend at Youngstown and Cleveland."
We're Going Streaking!: Junior outfielder Colin Ziegel extended his season-long hitting streak to 10 games with hits in all four contests during the past week. His trek seemed in jeopardy in the final double-header contest against Wright State, however, going hitless in his first three at bats before walking to lead off the eighth inning. Thanks to some help from the rest of the Butler lineup, Ziegel got one more chance in the top of the ninth, and the Fort Wayne, Ind., not only kept his streak alive but helped aid a Bulldog rally attempt with a two-out RBI single.
...And More Streaking: Since giving up seven runs in 4.0 innings of work in his first outing of the year at No. 17 Kentucky, junior left-hander Joe Ochs has shut down opponents bats, pitching 17.0 consecutive innings without allowing a single run, earned or unearned. During that span, he has scattered eight hits, struck out 10 and walked three while posting a team-best 3-0 record.
Control Freaks: The Butler pitching staff has had an uncanny ability to locate within the strike zone of late. The Bulldogs have allowed three or fewer walks in 14 of the last 19 games, including nine with one or no free passes.
No Free Passes: Juniors pitcher Jeff Sinkiewicz and Matt Sokolowski have led the way for the Bulldogs when it comes to limiting walks. Sinkiewicz has allowed just three in 31.2 innings on the year (0.85 per nine innings) while Sokolowski has yielded only three in 40 innings (0.68 per nine innings).
League Of Their Own: Butler has found much more success at the plate in Horizon League play than it did during the non-conference slate. In 15 non-league games, the Bulldogs have posted a .226 batting average, while Butler touts an impressive .305 mark in 12 conference contests.
Going Big And Small: Not too many hitters in the Horizon League are as versatile as senior captain Ryan Neat. The Bulldog first baseman has evolved into one of the team's top power threats, leading the squad with three home runs, but he has also been tops at playing small ball with a team-high five sacrifice bunts.
That's What I Call Run Support: Butler's 22 runs scored against Milwaukee on Saturday (March 29) were the most in a single game since scoring 24 runs against Detroit in 2003.
Mr. 1,000: When the second game of the Bulldogs' double-header against UIC on Saturday (April 5) became official in the fifth inning, Butler head coach Steve Farley had formally gone where few college coaches have gone before. The contest marked the 1,000th game on the bench for the 19-year veteran and was the mentor's 900th game coached in his 17 seasons at Butler.
Not Your Average Joe: Senior shortstop Joe Pauley has been one of the Bulldogs' top offensive players in his three-plus seasons. This year, he leads the team with 18 runs scored, but his career totals are among the best in school history. With 122 career runs scored, he is now 28 shy of the all-time mark (150).
Major League Calling: Former Butler pitcher Pat Neshek continues to thrive with the Minnesota Twins in his third year at the MLB level in 2008. To date, he touts an 11-4 record and a 2.80 ERA with 134 strikeouts and just 33 walks in 112.1 career innings.
On Deck: The Bulldogs host Dayton in a pair of seven-inning contests on April 23 at 2:00 p.m. before opening up a three-game set at new Horizon League member Valparaiso beginning with a 4:00 p.m. ET game on April 25 and a 1:00 p.m. ET double-header on April 26.