Tornado pleased to find offense
Butler baseball tops Gateway, 7-0
BUTLER TWP — Runs crossed the plate early and often for Butler.
Golden Tornado baseball coach Todd Erdos is hoping for a repeat performance today as his team returns to section play against Central Catholic.
“We seem to have gotten out of our funk,” Erdos said of his team’s 7-0 win over Gateway Tuesday at the high school field. “It felt good to see those runs score early.
“If we can get that same early production, we can be relaxed and just go out and play. It’s time to get something done in section.”
Butler (5-4, 0-3) was shut out in three straight section games before breaking through with seven runs in a non-section win over Armstrong and seven more Tuesday night.
Gateway (2-7) lost for the sixth time in seven games.
“Butler was swinging the bats well tonight. They put the ball in play and made things happen,” Gators coach Bill Stoops said.
Gateway had trouble doing the same — and Butler right-hander Brandon Fleeger had a lot to do with that.
Fleeger worked six innings, allowing only four hits. He struck out six and threw 96 pitches. Alec Bayer tossed a scoreless seventh to complete the shutout for Butler.
“Brandon ran into trouble on pitch count in the sixth,” Erdos said. “He got a big double play ball to get out of that inning.
“He’s been very consistent on the mound for us. His last time out, he looked sharp against North Allegheny.”
Fleeger walked only two and got ahead of hitters most of the night. He quelled Gateway’s biggest threat — runners at first and third with one out in the sixth — by inducing No. 4 hitter Kris Dick to ground into a double play after getting ahead 3-0 in the count.
Dick hit into a pair of inning-ending double plays for the Gators.
“We stood up there waiting for the perfect pitch too many times,” Stoops said. “I keep telling our guys ... there is no perfect pitch.
“We have to start making more consistent contact at the plate. But their kid (Fleeger) has a nice curve-ball.”
Fleeger often threw that pitch when behind in the count. He got strike calls with it twice on 3-0 pitches.
“I have a lot of confidence with it,” Fleeger said of his curve. “That’s my out pitch. I’m more comfortable throwing a curve than my fastball.”
Fleeger received early run support Tuesday. Connor Ollio delivered a two-out RBI single in the first inning. Jacob Keene had a run-scoring single in the second and RBI singles by Cade Negley and Ollio highlighted a four-run third.
“It’s great getting an early lead like that,” Fleeger said. “You can just go out on the mound, relax and throw.”
Adam Hohn, Dallas Hays and Ollio all had two hits for Butler. The Tornado had 10 hits as a team, all singles.
Gateway 000 000 0 — 0 4 3
Butler 114 100 x — 7 10 0
W: Brandon Fleeger 6IP (6K, 2BB). L: Michael Vojnik 4IP (4K, 1BB).
Gateway (2-7): Dylan Urban 2B, Eric Dawkins 1B, Michael Vojnik 1B, Brady Walker 1B
Butler (5-4): Adam Hohn 2-1B, Dallas Hays 2-1B RBI 2-R, Cade Negley 1B RBI, Connor Ollio 2-1B 2-RBI, Alec Bayer 1B, Jacob Keene 1B RBI, Justin Stewart 1B