DODGE CITY, Kan. – The Butler baseball squad split a four-game series with conference foe Dodge City this past weekend.
Butler took the opening game of the series, winning 3-1 on Saturday before falling 6-1 in the nightcap. On Sunday, the Grizzlies edged out a 5-4 victory in eight innings, but the host Conquistadors took the final game of the series 3-1.
With the split, Butler (16-11 overall, 8-4 Jayhawk West) is two games back of Garden City in the conference standings. The Grizzlies are also in a three-way tie for second with Dodge and Hutchinson. Butler will host Northern Oklahoma-Enid on Wednesday at 2 p.m. in a non-conference single-game contest, then host Garden City in a four-game series beginning Saturday at 3 p.m.
Game 1 – Butler 3, Dodge City 1
Freshman first baseman Cory Slater provided all the offense the Grizzlies would need in Saturday's opener with two solo home runs, while freshman pitcher Corbin Osburn tossed a complete-game five-hitter.
Butler gave Osburn the lead before he took the mound, scoring twice in the opening inning. Jake Huscroft hit a one-out double to left center, then advanced to third on a balk and scored on a passed ball. Two batters later, Slater homered to left center to put the Grizzlies up 2-0.
In the bottom of the first, Dodge would score its only run of the game as Johnny Balsamo led off with a triple to right-center, then scored on a Leno Ramirez double.
Dodge would manage just two hits off Osburn after the opening inning and manage to strand seven runners on base in the final six innings – including the bases loaded in the sixth inning.
Slater added an insurance run in the seventh, hitting a solo blast to left. Osburn then retired the Conqs in order in the bottom-half to end the game.
Slater and Huscroft both went 2-for-3 for Butler, who managed just six hits off Dodge starter Luke Crabb. In addition to just giving up five hits, Osburn walked five and struck out two while picking up his sixth win of the season.
Game 2 – Dodge City 6, Butler 1
Dodge took a 2-0 lead in the third when Balsamo hit a two-run home run off starter Austin Dubsky. The Grizzlies grabbed a run back in the seventh as Slater hit a two-out single through the left side of the infield to score Huscroft.
Leading 2-1 in the eighth with one out, Dodge loaded the bases by getting two walks and a single. Jordan Doan then followed with a grand-slam homer to left to give the Conqs a five-run lead.
Huscroft went 2-for-4 to lead the Grizzlies' offense. Dodge starter Layne Downing pitched the entire nine innings, allowing five hits, walking one and fanning six batters. Dubsky took the loss – giving up six earned runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings. The sophomore righthander struck out five and walked three.
Game 3 – Butler 5, Dodge City 4 (8 innings)
Sunday's opener was scheduled for a seven-inning contest, but the Grizzlies needed extra innings to pull out the win. Cameron Knight's sacrifice fly to score Slater in the eighth inning provided the winning run.
Dodge took a 1-0 lead after one inning on Leno Ramirez's solo home run to right center, but Butler answered in the second when Channing Williams hit a double to right to score Knight.
In the fourth, Slater scored on a Knight groundout to put Butler up 2-1. The Grizzlies added two runs in the fifth, beginning with Ty Redington's single to score Williams. Redington would later score on a throwing error in the inning.
The Conqs would eventually tie the game in the bottom of the fifth. Max Laney's two-run double to left-center pulled Dodge within a run. Four batters later, Laney crossed the plate on Jason Nichols' RBI single to right.
Both teams stranded a runner at third bases in the seventh inning before Butler pushed across the winning run in the eighth. Slater led off the inning with a double to center field. After a sacrifice bunt by Alex Weiss moved Slater to third, Williams flied out to right to bring in Slater.
Payton Rawlins, who pitched the final 3 1/3 innings for Butler, worked his way out of a jam of the victory. Dodge had two runners in scoring position with two outs, but Rawlins struck out Laney for the final out of the game.
Rawlins received the win, giving up no runs and just two hits, while walking one and striking out four.
Game 4 – Dodge City 3, Butler 1
Dodge's Johnny Balsamo drove in all three runs for the hosts in the final game of the series. Balsamo hit a solo home run to right in the third, then added a two-run double to right-center in the fifth to give the Conqs a 3-0 lead.
Butler broke the shutout as Cory Slater led off the top of the seventh with a solo blast to right, but Dodge starter Andrew Riddell, who tossed a complete-game four-hitter, retired the next three batters for the win.
Slater was the lone offensive spark in the nightcap, going 2-for-2 with the home run. Austin Weiser took the loss, giving up three runs on just three hits in 4 1/3 innings.