Butler baseball started off the 2018 regular season with a pair of home victories over Highland on Friday at McDonald Stadium.
The Grizzlies (2-0 overall) had no problem in the opener, needing only five innings for a 10-0 run-rule victory. In the second game, Butler held off a late Scotties' rally for an 8-6 win to earn the home sweep.
Butler won both games despite a chilly day, with temperatures in the mid 30s and a brisk wind blowing in from the outfield.
Butler will next be in action on Tuesday with a home doubleheader against McPherson College JV beginning at 1:00 p.m.
Game 1 - Butler 10, Highland 0 (5 innings)
The scoring started early for Butler, who scored three runs with the benefit of two errors by Highland centerfielder Justin Rieschick in the first inning. Keone Givens reached first on a dropped fly ball by Reischick, then Javier Pena followed with a single up the middle. The Grizzlies loaded the bases after another drop by Reischick, allowing Connor Hurst to reach first.
With the bases loaded, Givens scored from third when Jackson Soule reached first base on a fielder's choice. The Grizzlies went up 2-0 on a Joshua Cox sacrifice fly to bring in Pena, then after a walk re-loaded the bases, Hurst scored from third base on a balk.
Butler would not score again until the fourth inning, where they crossed the plate four times. Garrett Chalker and Alex Brough led off the inning with consecutive singles, then a sacrifice bunt by Goade moved both runners into scoring position. Both runners would score on a throwing error by Highland third baseman Tyler Watson, as Patrick Bethea hit a grounder to third. However, Watson's throw was well off target.
Pena then added an RBI double to left to bring in Givens to give the Grizzlies a 7-0 lead.
Butler ended the contest by run-rule in the fifth behind a two-run double by Goade, then Bethea singled through the left side of the infield to score Goade for the 10th run.
Sophomore starter Zach Bilek was solid in his opening day debut, throwing four shutout innings and allowing just three hits while striking out five. Drake Norton tossed one inning of relief, retiring all three batters.
Goade finished 2-for-2 with two RBI, while Bethea went 2-for-4 with two RBI to lead the Grizzlies' offense. Both Chalker and Brough scored two runs each.
Game 2 - Butler 8, Highland 6
Butler used its team speed in the second game, finishing with eight stolen bases and stealing home twice on a pair of delayed double steals. Givens and Hurst each had two thefts in the victory.
The Grizzlies jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one inning, beginning with a Pena two-run triple to center which scored Givens and Bethea. Hurst then delivered an RBI single to center to drive in Pena. After Jackson Soule singled to center to place runners on the corners, Butler attempted its first double steal, with Hurst standing up as he crossed home.
Both teams would score a run each in the second inning. Highland's Rieschick hit an RBI infield single for the Scotties' first run, but Butler grabbed the run back when Goade scored on a groundout.
Butler added two more runs in the fourth on a balk to score Goade and another double steal, as Givens stole home.
Highland cut Butler's lead to 7-3 when Mason Nagle crushed a two-run home run to right field in the top of the fifth. The Grizzlies answered in the bottom of the inning with Brough hitting an RBI single to right to score Soule.
The Scotties pulled within two runs in the sixth, getting a two-run single from Jordan Henning and an RBI single from Christopher Procopio off Grlzzly reliever David Henderson. With runners at first and second and two outs, Butler brought in Jack Maki to record the final out on a groundout to first.
Maki shut down another Highland threat to end the game. With one out, the Scotties put runners again at first and second on a throwing error and a hit by pitch. Maki escaped the jam by getting the final two outs for his first save of the season.
Dallas Armstrong was credited with the win, throwing two innings and allowing two earned runs on two hits while fanning three. Armstrong entered the game in the fourth inning after starter Branson Bishop went three innings. Bishop gave up one unearned run on two hits, walked three and struck out three.
Offensively, Pena led Butler by going 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBI and a run, while Soule went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Givens and Goade scored two runs each for the Grizzlies.