GAINESVILLE, Texas - Defending NJCAA champion Butler opened the 2017 season with a 17-3 run-rule win in five innings over Northeast Texas on Saturday, then ended the day with a rare 3-3 tie against host North Central Texas.
The contest against North Central was called after five innings due to darkness and no lights at the facility. Butler led 3-2 going into the bottom of the fifth inning, but gave up a game-tying single with two outs to tie the game.
No. 2 Butler (1-0-1 overall) will return to action next weekend with five games at the Cowtown Classic in Fort Worth, Texas. The Grizzlies will play three games against Texas schools on Friday, beginning with a 9:00 a.m. contest against Galveston. Butler will also face Navarro and Ranger, then finish the Classic with a pair of Saturday games against Lamar State and Seminole State (Okla.)
Butler 17, Northeast Texas 3 (5 innings)
The Grizzlies started hot in the season opener with a six-run first inning, highlighted by an Allison Jurgensen two-run triple down the right-field line.
Butler opened the scoring on a double-steal as Ki'Audra Hayter came home. A bases-loaded walk to Brynn Minor with no outs brought in Kenzie Young, then an Alexis Reed sacrifice fly scored Becca Schulte. Jurgensen followed with a triple to drive in Darrian Hale and Minor, then Beanie Luttig added a sac fly to score Jurgensen.
With the Grizzlies leading 6-1 in the third, an infield error with the bases loaded allowed Jurgensen to score from third base. Schulte then cleared the bases with a three-run double to left to give Butler a 10-1 lead.
A Jurgensen RBI double and a Caylie Kifer RBI single put the Grizzlies up 12-3 after four innings.
Darrian Hale and Maddie Siemer each threw two innings of work, with Brynn Minor recording three strikeouts in one inning of relief. Siemer was credited with the win, striking out four batters while allowing two runs on just one hit.
Butler 3, North Central Texas 3 (5 innings)
Butler held a 3-0 lead after two innings, but failed to generate more offense in the final three innings.
Butler's best chance to add another insurance run came in the top of the fourth inning when Pacher hit a two-out single, stole second and went to third base on an errant throw. However, Pacher was stranded at third on a groundout back to the pitcher.
North Central broke the shutout with two runs in the fourth inning off starter Regan Mergele. The Lions scored on an infield single and a sacrifice fly.
Minor came on in relief in the fifth inning and struck out the first two batters, but allowed three straight singles to tie the game. North Central's Rylee Hodges had the game-tying RBI single to force the 3-3 score.