OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Connor Hurst hit a three-run homer in the first inning and Travis Hennessy threw seven strong innings as Butler upended No. 14 Johnson County 4-3, in the best-of-three sub-regional series at a game apiece on Saturday afternoon.
The deciding game of the series will be played at Cavalier Field on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. The winner advances to the Region VI Tournament next weekend at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita. The loser will see its season come to an end.
Butler, which fell 5-1 in the opening game on Friday, wasted no time taking a lead on Saturday. Leadoff man Garrett Chalker walked, and with one out, Caleb Cox singled. That set the stage for Hurst, who crushed his team-high 13th homer of the season to make it a 3-0 game.
Butler (23-28) would take advantage of a Johnson County (43-14) miscue to score its only other run. Tanner Hearon led off the top of the fifth with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mason Goade. Chalker reached on a throwing error by the pitcher, allowing Hearon to score.
Meanwhile, Hennessy was dealing on the mound for Butler. He gave up a run in the bottom of the first, but then threw six straight scoreless innings, using seven strikeouts to work around six hits allowed.
Hennessy was relieved by Zach Bilek, who threw a scoreless eighth before running into trouble and giving up two runs in the bottom of the ninth. Bilek was able to strike out two of the final three batters to final seal the ballgame and earn the save.
Hennessy improves to 3-1 on the season while Bilek earns his second save.