Butler wins ninth straight, remains one game back of league lead

Butler wins ninth straight, remains one game back of league lead

GARDEN CITY, Kan. – Butler baseball continued its winning ways Thursday with a road doubleheader sweep over Garden City at Williams Stadium.

Behind a complete-game two-hit shutout by sophomore pitcher Zach Bravo, Butler won the opening game 6-0 over Garden. In Game 2, the Grizzlies overcame a four-run deficit after six innings and held on for a 5-4 win in the nightcap.

Winners of nine consecutive games, Butler (35-17 overall, 20-10 conference) remains just one game back of Jayhawk West leader Hutchinson with two conference games remaining. The Blue Dragons split their doubleheader at Cloud County, allowing the Grizzlies to pick up one game in the standings.

Butler will host the final two games of the four-game series against Garden on Saturday. First pitch from McDonald Stadium is at 1:00 p.m.

Game 1 – Butler 6, Garden City 0

Bravo (7-3) tossed his fifth complete game of the year, striking out seven and walking three. The sophomore right-hander allowed just two Garden City baserunners to reach second base.

Javier Pena put the Grizzlies in front in the first inning with an RBI double to left-center to score Joshua Cox, who reached base on a one-out walk.

Butler then added three runs in the second, with Tanyon Schafer opening the scoring with a single, moving to third on a Colby Deaville double and scoring on a passed ball. After a Jack Maki walk put runners at the corners, Deaville scored on a Patrick Bethea sacrifice fly. Cox followed with a triple to center to plate Maki.

With Butler leading 4-0 in the fifth, Parker Base hit his eighth home run of the season – a solo shot down the right-field line.

Butler added its final run in the seventh when Cox led off the frame with a single, stole second, then moved to third on a balk. With two outs, Colby Standard delivered a single up the middle to drive in Cox.

Cox led the offense by going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.

Game 2 – Butler 5, Garden City 4

Garden scored one run in each of the first three innings off Grizzly starter Jayton Haggard. A Branden Andersen RBI groundout scored Sean Klein in the first, then Turner McDonald led off the second with a solo home run. Andersen scored Garden's third run on a Chris Lara sacrifice fly in the third.

Haggard lasted just three innings, giving up two earned runs on two hits and walked three.

Butler turned to the bullpen by bringing in Zach Nagel, who allowed just one hit – a Lara solo homer in the fifth – over four innings. Nagel struck out four and walked two while earning his second win of the season.

Garden starter Malachi Crone looked solid after six shutout innings, as he allowed just three hits and struck out four batters.

However, the Grizzlies finally broke the shutout in the seventh as Javier Pena and Parker Base led off the inning with consecutive singles. After a Colby Standard groundout forced an out at second, Standard stole second to put two runners in scoring position. Pena then scored on an Austin Portner sacrifice fly.

Butler then took the lead with a four-run eighth inning, as the Grizzlies started the frame by loading the bases with no outs. Colby Deaville reached first when Garden third baseman Dakota Finley booted a grounder. Following a Jack Maki walk, Patrick Bethea bunted and reached first on a throwing error by Crone.

After Garden pulled Crone for Jacob Douglas, Joshua Cox hit a two-run double to right to score both Deaville and Maki. Pena then tied the game at 4-4 with an RBI single to left to plate Bethea. With runners at first and second with one out, Colby Standard drove in Pena with a single to left to give Butler the lead.

Leading 5-4 heading to the bottom of the eighth, Butler brought in closer Bennett Scherer for a six-out save – his 11th of the season. Scherer allowed no hits and struck out three over two innings for the save.

Cox went 2-for-5 with two runs driven in, while Pena was 2-for-4 and scored twice to lead the Grizzlies.