CONCORDIA, Kan. — Butler baseball fell victim to a two-hit shutout in Thursday's opening game at Cloud County, then lost Game 2 by an 14-11 score after the T-Birds rallied from a seven-run deficit late to sweep the doubleheader.
With the two losses, Butler (24-15 overall, 16-10 conference) is now tied for second place in the Jayhawk West standings with Cloud (22-16, 14-8).
The Grizzlies will host Cloud County for the final two games of the conference series on Sunday, beginning at 1:00 p.m. The doubleheader was originally scheduled for Saturday, but a cold and windy forecast pushed the games back a day.
Game 1 - Cloud County 5, Butler 0
Cloud County starter Erik Sabrowski tossed a complete-game two-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts as the T-Birds took the first game.
Sabrowski, who allowed only three baserunners in the contest, took a no-hit bid into the sixth ininng. Patrick Bethea broke up Sabrowski's attempt with a single to center field with one out, then Keone Givens followed with a single to right to put runners at the corners. However, Sabrowski ended the inning by getting a strikeout and flyout.
Cloud broke a scoreless tie in the third inning after loading the bases with one out. A bases-loaded walk to Ryan Krolikowski scored Ryan Simons from third base, then Tauren Langley hit a sacrifice fly to score Matt Bondarchuk.
After loading the bases with no outs in the fourth behind three consecutive walks, Cloud's Tucker Catlett scored from third on a passed ball. The T-Birds added two more runs in the inning after Butler pitcher Corey Murphy had an errant pickoff throw to first base.
Murphy (1-2) gave up five runs with only one of them earned in 3 2/3 innings of work. The left-hander struck out four batters, walked five and allowed three hits in the loss. Reliever David Henderson finished the game with 2 1/3 innings of shutout ball, allowing only three hits.
Game 2 - Cloud County 14, Butler 11
Cloud rallied from a seven-run deficit, which was capped with an eight-run eighth inning to earn the sweep. After a Tucker Catlett solo homer to lead off the frame, Cloud closed within a run on a two-run single by Ed Scott.
The T-Birds then jumped out in front 11-10 on a two-run single by Ryan Krolikowski, then Tauren Langley followed with his second home run of the game - a three-run shot to left field.
Butler led 10-3 after 4 1/2 innings of play, wasting no time to get the offense going after a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. Keone Givens hit an RBI double to left to bring in Patrick Bethea, then Connor Hurst slugged his 18th homer of the season on a two-run shot to left-center.
Cloud answered in the bottom of the inning with a Ryan Krolikowski sacrifice fly and a two-run home run by Tauren Langley.
Butler went back in front with a five-run third inning. Givens led off the inning with a single, advanced to second on a balk, then moved to third on a Javier Pena single. Givens then scored when Connor Hurst singled through the left side of the infield.
Jackson Soule then hit a sacrifice fly to score Pena from third for a two-run lead. After Mason Goade singled to put runners at the corners, Joshua Cox reached first on an error by Cloud third baseman Langley, which scored Hurst. Langley managed to still field the ball, but threw wide of the bag at first, allowing Goade to score on the play. Alex Brough then doubled to left field to drive in Cox to cap the scoring in the third.
Butler added consecutive solo home runs by Cox and Brough in the fifth for a 10-3 lead over Cloud.
The Grizzlies avoided damage in the bottom of the fifth, as Cloud put runners at first and second with no outs. Cloud's Erik Sabrowski doubled to left-center, but the runner at second had a late start. A few strides of each other, both T-Bird runners were sent home and tagged out at the plate by Grizzly catcher Alex Brough.
After the double play, Cloud managed to get an RBI single from Krolikowski, then Ed Scott followed with a two-run single in the sixth to cut Butler's lead to 10-6.
Butler had 16 hits in the contest, as Hurst led the offense by going 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBI. Pena also went 3-for-5 with a double and stolen base.
Starter Zach Bilek went six innings, giving up six runs - three earned - on eight hits, walking four and striking out four. After Colby Pechin threw a shutout inning in the seventh, Ryan Miller (2-4) gave up five earned runs on four hits while recording just one out. Jack Maki finished the contest, allowing three runs on three hits.
NOTES: Hurst is now tied among all NJCAA Division I hitters this season with 18 home runs as of Thursday. The sophomore also moves into a fourth-place tie on the Grizzlies' single-season home run leaderboard and remains one back of Grier Jones for third in career homers at Butler.