Little things working for Butler
Unbeaten Tornado hand P-R 1st defeat, 9-4
The little things made a big difference.
The Butler baseball team executed hit-and-run plays, moved runners along with bunts (and with a suicide squeeze), stole bases — including a swipe of home — and had two more batters hit by pitches.
Meanwhile, Pine-Richland had a runner thrown out at home, one picked off first base and had two more runners gunned down trying to steal.
The Golden Tornado won the battle of the little things and in turn the war in downing the Rams 9-4 in the section opener for both teams at Kelly Automotive Park.
“I sit back and I'll watch games on TV,” said Butler coach Cody Herald. “The game has changed so much. Now it's all drive the ball over the fence.
“We do the small stuff.”
Butler did a lot of the small stuff against Pine-Richland on another night best suited for football or pond hockey than baseball with a steady snow falling throughout the game.
The Golden Tornado (5-0, 1-0) moved up 90 feet every chance they got and moved runners 90 more feet with situational hitting.
That led to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning without a hit and led to a big third inning that gave the Tornado a 5-0 lead.
Sure, there were some big hits, too.
Ryan Lynn doubled home a pair of runs and Isaiah Lucas also had a RBI double.
“Obviously we're trying to drive balls in the gap,” Herald said. “But there's going to come times where we have to put bunts down and we have to hit and run.”
Nick Kibbie lashed a single to right in that third inning on a perfectly executed hit-and-run to launch the big inning.
Lynn stole home in the same frame.
Clean-up hitter Grant Metzger contributed to that four-run frame as well with a sacrifice bunt on an 0-2 count.
“That's what we call being unselfish,” Herald said. “You're giving your at-bat away for the better of the team.”
Pine-Richland coach Kurt Wolfe lamented his team gave too much away.
The Rams (5-1, 0-1) were uncharacteristically sloppy in the game and reckless on the basepaths.
“It's tough because you have young kids trying to do some things,” Wolfe said. “We got down early and it was a case of them maybe trying to do too much.”
Butler starter Connor Ollio was masterful the first time through the Pine-Richland order, striking out six.
The sailing wasn't as smooth for the big senior right-hander in the next two frames.
Ollio wiggled out of a jam in the fourth inning with only one run scoring, but wasn't as lucky in the fifth when the Rams scored three unearned runs against him.
Three of Ollio's four walks came in those two innings. He got the win, going five innings, striking out seven and surrendering just one earned run.
“There were too many mistakes and we just couldn't overcome them,” Wolfe said. “We knocked Ollio out and then they brought in another kid that throws well.”
That kid was Nash Bryan and he showcased his wipeout stuff again, striking out four in his two hitless innings.
“Every pitch he has moves,” Herald said. “Nash is one of those kids who you wish would have played high school baseball a long time ago. Just watching him pitch, though, it looks like he's been around for a long time.”
Butler responded to the fifth-inning Pine-Richland rally with one of its own in the bottom of the frame.
The four-run inning got started by Lynn, who was hit by a pitch.
Butler batters have now been hit 12 times in five games.
Brandon Fleeger and Justin Stewart drove in runs with bunts in the inning, Stewart's a suicide squeeze that scored Fleeger.
“The big difference on this team is they are buying into the team, not, 'I need to do this.'” Herald said. “It's more of, 'What can I do to produce something?' We do a lot of things. We fake steal and that moves the infielders around and makes holes. They've really committed to the plan and are executing it.”
Pine-Richland 000 130 0 — 4 6 2
Butler 014 040 x — 9 8 1
W: Connor Ollio 5IP (7K, 4BB). L: Bryce Grenet 2.2IP (2K, 2BB).
Pine-Richland (5-1, 0-1): Jacob Weinberg 1B, Josh Johnson 1B 2B 2-RBI, Craig Kunkel 1B RBI, Josh Scherer 2-1B RBI
Butler (5-0, 1-0): Nick Kibbie 2-1B, Ryan Lynn 2B 2-RBI, Ollio 1B, Grant Metzger 1B, Brandon Fleeger RBI, Isaiah Lucas 2B RBI, Jake Keene 1B RBI, Justin Stewart RBI, Garet Banner 1B