Butler baseball is off to its best conference start since 2010 after completing a series sweep of Garden City on the road Saturday. With two wins, the Grizzlies are alone atop the Jayhawk Conference standings by one game over Barton.
The Grizzlies (15-5 overall, 7-1 conference) took the opening game 8-2 over the Broncbusters after swiping seven bases and getting a complete-game five-hitter from starter Drake Norton. Butler jumped out to a 10-run lead in the nightcap before winning 13-7 to finish the four-game sweep.
Butler's previous best start in Jayhawk Conference play came when the Grizzlies went 7-2 in 2010, eventually ending with a share of the conference title with Seward County at 24-8.
Butler returns to conference action with a 2:00 p.m. road doubleheader Thursday at Hutchinson (10-8, 4-4), then will finish the series Saturday in El Dorado beginning at 1:00 p.m.
Game 1 - Butler 8, Garden City 2
Garden scored the first of its two runs in the bottom of the inning when Clint Allen tripled, then scored on an RBI groundout.
In the fourth, Cade Morrow put Butler up 3-1 with an RBI single that scored Jack Maki. The Grizzlies padded its lead with two more runs, beginning when Keone Givens scored on a Pena RBI triple. Pena then scored on a Hurst groundout.
Butler took an 8-1 lead when an error by Garden City second baseman Gabe Rivera on a ball hit by Keone Givens allowed three runs to score. The Busters allowed walks to Mason Goade and Morrow, then Givens hit a ball through Rivera and all the way to the right-center field wall. Givens was able to score on the play.
Norton (3-1) shut down the Busters, giving up just two runs on six hits and struck out three batters in the complete-game win.
Pena went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and five RBI for Butler, who stole seven bases as a team. Givens and Pena each scored two runs.
Game 2 - Butler 13, Garden City 7
Butler took an early 2-0 lead in the first after a sacrifice fly by Connor Hurst and a Garden City throwing error.
The Grizzlies added five more runs in the second, giving Butler a 7-0 advantage. Two runs scored off an error on a bunt by Keone Givens, Jackson Soule drove in a run on a fielder's choice and Alex Brough sent two more home with an outfield error.
Javier Pena added a two-run single in the third, then smacked a two-out RBI triple in the fifth to expand Butler's lead to 10-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, Garden City finally got on the scoreboard on a Robbie Young RBI double, then a bases-loaded walk by David Henderson brought in another run. The Busters added a two-run single by Darian Burns to cut Butler's lead to 10-4.
The Busters added two runs in the sixth on RBI singles by Corbin Truslow and Ty Barclay.
Givens went 3-for-3 with four runs and three stolen bases, while Pena and Brough each had two hits. Goade scored three runs, Soule drove in three, while Pena and Chalker scored two runs apiece.
Trevor Gorges earned his first win of the season with 2 2/3 shutout innings pitched, allowing just two hits and striking out two.
NOTES: Butler currently leads all NJCAA Division I teams with 85 stolen bases in 20 games this season, just one ahead of Central Arizona.... With two triples in Saturday's doubleheader, Pena ranks first among NJCAA Division I players with seven triples and is tied for 13th with a .500 batting average (34-of-68)... With four stolen bases on Saturday, Givens moved into fourth among all NJCAA Division I players with 21 stolen bases on the season.