DODGE CITY, Kan. — Butler baseball opened Jayhawk Conference play with a pair of road wins Thursday at Dodge City, defeating the Conquistadors 7-4 and 22-18.
Butler (10-3 overall, 2-0 conference) used a pair of home runs from Connor Hurst for the opening 7-4 win, then scored a season-high 22 runs in the nightcap. The 22 runs are the most runs scored in a conference game under head coach BJ McVay, and the most since the Grizzlies have scored since a 22-4 road contest at Allen back on March 28, 2012.
The Grizzlies, who are off to their first 2-0 start in conference play since the 2015 season, will host Dodge City on Saturday to finish the series. The doubleheader gets underway from McDonald Stadium at 1:00 p.m.
Game 1 - Butler 7, Dodge City 4
Butler slugged four home runs in the conference opener - including two from sophomore Connor Hurst, who drove in three runs in the victory.
Dodge answered with four runs in the bottom of the second, scoring runs on a two-run double by Ian Garcia, a Garrett Allen RBI double and a throwing error on a pickoff with runners at the corners.
Down 4-3, the Grizzlies received two solo home runs to go back in front of the Conquistadors. Patrick Bethea led off the inning with a game-tying shot to left center, then after Dodge recorded two outs, Hurst drove an 0-2 pitch to the same spot for his second homer of the contest.
Butler added insurance runs in the fourth and fifth innings, beginning with a Mason Goade RBI double to left-center to score Maki. Javier Pena then crushed a solo blast to straight-away center in the fifth to put the Grizzlies up 7-4.
Dodge threatened in the sixth, putting runners at first and second base, but Grizzly reliever Ryan Miller struck out Cooper Shearon for the final out. Miller then worked a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh for his first save of the season.
Butler starter Zach Bilek received the win, improving to 3-1 overall. Bilek went 5 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits, walking three and striking out four batters. Miller had two strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings of work.
Hurst led the Grizzlies' offense by going 3-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored. Pena and Maki each had two hits for Butler, who pounded out 11 hits in the win.
Game 2 - Butler 22, Dodge City 18
Butler jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Patrick Bethea led off the inning with a solo home run to left.
Dodge answered by scoring two runs in each of the first two innings, taking a 4-1 lead.
The Grizzlies jumped back in front with a six-run third inning, beginning when Bethea hit a leadoff triple, then scored on a Keone Givens sacrifice fly. Butler pulled off a delayed double steal as Javier Pena stole home to pull within a run, then Jack Maki followed with a bases-loaded single to drive in Connor Hurst to tie the game.
With the bases still loaded and one out, Mason Goade beat out an infield single to allow Jackson Soule to score from third base. Alex Brough then scored on a walk to Garrett Chalker. Maki scored the final run of the inning when Dodge was unable to turn an inning-ending double play.
Up 7-5, Butler led off the fourth with consecutive triples by Pena and Hurst, then Brough hit a sacrifice fly to score Hurst from third. With two outs, Garrett Chalker beat out an infield single to allow Jackson Soule to score from third base as Butler doubled up Dodge City, 10-5.
Butler continued its offensive effort with a five-run fifth inning, getting two runs on an infield error and a two-run Maki single. Chalker added an RBI single to drive in Mason Goade as the Grizzlies led 15-5 after 4 1/2 innings.
After Dodge's Colton Onstott hit a two-run home run in the fifth, Butler grabbed a run back when Pena scored from third base on a wild pitch.
Dodge then pulled within three runs, 16-13, with a six-run sixth inning - including a two-run homer by Dauson Tate.
Butler responded with four runs - all with two outs - in the seventh. Bethea hit an RBI single to left to drive in Alex Brough, then Keone Givens hit a three-run home run to left to give the Grizzlies a 20-13 lead.
The Grizzlies added two more runs on an error to score Goade from second base, then a Pena RBI single to plate Givens.
Up 22-13, Butler gave up five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning before getting former Grizzly Tanner White to strike out to end the game.
Each Grizzly in the starting lineup had at least one hit, as Butler had 18 total hits in the win.
Pena led the Butler offense by going 4-for-6 at the plate with four runs scored, while Maki and Bethea each had three hits. Givens drove in four runs, while Bethea, Maki and Chalker each had three RBI.