John Enrietto Eagle Staff
JACKSON TWP — Butler could have qualified for the WPIAL Class 6A baseball playoffs a few different ways.

The Golden Tornado cared about only one.

“We treated this as win or go home,” senior Cade Negley said.

And he pitched like it.

Butler's senior right-hander scattered five hits, struck out six and threw 61 of 94 pitches for strikes in a 5-1 victory over Seneca Valley at Raider Field.

He did not walk a batter.

“I was getting my fastball where I wanted it, my curve was getting over, my change-up was getting over ... I felt like I had command of everything,” Negley said.

The Raiders did not collect more than one hit in any inning. They took a 1-0 lead in the first inning as Tyler Smith singled to right, stole second, moved to third on a ground out and scored on Mark Trotta's sacrifice fly to right.

Seneca Valley (8-10, 2-8) never got more than one runner on base in an inning and never threatened again. Justin Dattoli doubled into the left-center gap with two outs in the fourth, but was cut down trying to stretch it into a triple. Center fielder Dallas Hays fired the ball to shortstop Connor Ollio, who gunned Dattoli down at third.

“We haven't been capitalizing on the opportunities we get. That's the way it's been this year,” SV coach Eric Semega said. “We've missed out on getting into the second season for the second year in a row. It's frustrating.”

Butler (11-6, 5-5) tied the game in the third. Negley walked with two outs, moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt and stole third. Ollio walked, got himself in a rundown between first and second and allowed Negley to score on the play.

The Tornado took the lead for good with a two-run fourth. Sam Gross doubled off the left field fence to open the fame and Isaiah Lucas walked. Jacob Keene tried bunting the runners up a base.

Raiders pitcher Jackson Nickel fielded the bunt, but threw wildly toward third base. The throw sailed into foul territory, plating Gross and putting runners at second and third. Dallas Hays produced a two-out RBI single to give Butler a 3-1 lead.

The Tornado left the bases loaded that inning. They stranded runners at second and third in the first inning and left two more on in the fifth.

“We should have scored a few more runs tonight,” Butler coach Todd Erdos admitted. “We need to put the ball in play more in those situations, just hit a sacrifice fly or something.

“But the way Cade was pitching ... He's a bulldog out there. He loves to compete. Once we got the lead, he slammed the door.”

RBI singles by Gross and Negley in the fifth and sixth innings padded Butler's lead. The Tornado bunched all seven of their hits into the fourth, fifth and sixth frames.

“Our hits came in bunches and that was good,” Erdos said. “We hit some balls hard.”

Three Seneca Valley pitchers — Nickel, Mike Morrone and Anthony Cinicola — combined to throw 132 pitches.

“We walked seven and hit three guys,” Semega said. “That's like giving up 10 more hits.”

Smith had two singles for Seneca Valley. Gross had a double and single, Hays two singles for Butler.

The Tornado have won eight of their past 10 games, the losses coming by 1-0 and 2-1 scores.

“It feels great to be back in the postseason. And we're playing pretty good baseball right now,” Negley said.

Butler won five of its last seven section games after getting shut out in the first three.

“The way we started, the kids could have called it in at that point, figuring it's not our year,” Erdos said. “They held together and stuck together.

“The way the whole thing played out, it was good for our team.”

Butler 001 211 0 — 5 7 1

Seneca Valley 100 000 0 — 1 5 3

W: Cade Negley 7IP (6K, 0BB). L: Jackson Nickel 3.2IP (3K, 6BB).

Butler (11-6, 5-5): Ryan Linn 2B, Dallas Hays 2-1B RBI, Cade Negley 1B RBI, Connor Ollio 2B, Sam Gross 2B 1B RBI,

Seneca Valley (8-10, 2-8): Tyler Smith 2-1B, Mark Trotta 1B RBI, Justin Dattoli 2B, Mike Collins 1B