The Butler baseball team got a walk-off win in the bottom of the 10th inning to beat No. 11 Hutchinson 15-14 on Sunday night at McDonald Stadium, giving the Grizzlies wins in three of the four games in the series this weekend.
Cameron Knight hit a single through the right side of a drawn-in infield with one out in the bottom of the 10th, scoring Shane Bridges from third base to end the game. It capped a wild affair in which the Grizzlies overcame an eight-run deficit and also blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning. The game took nearly four hours to play in weather that felt freezing with a wind chill below 30 degrees. The game was played into the teeth of a north wind that was gusting more than 30 miles per hour.
Butler is now 26-17 overall and improves to 15-9 in Jayhawk West Conference play. The Grizzlies are in second in the conference, now trailing league-leading Hutchinson (29-13, 17-7) by just two games with eight conference games left to play for each team.
Hutchinson seemed to be in good shape after chasing Butler starter Austin Dubsky from the game in the first inning. He lasted just one-third of an inning, allowing eight runs. Butler then turned to reliever Brady Holcomb, who would close the door on the first inning and throw four more scoreless innings.
In the meantime, the Butler bats would start to chip away at Hutchinson's lead. Butler scored three runs in the second, one in the third and then four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie the game 8-8. The big hits in the fifth inning were a two-run home run by Evan Koehler and a two-out, two-run double to right center by Zach Baker that tied the game.
Hutchinson would answer in the top of the sixth with a three-run home run by Jordan Schroer as the Blue Dragons regained the lead 11-8.
Both teams would add more run before Butler came to bat in the bottom of the seventh down 12-8. Evan Koehler would hit a two-run single to right field, getting Butler within one. Then Michael Cerullo singled up the middle to put Butler in the lead for the first time at 13-12.
The Grizzlies got what they thought would be an insurance run when Evan Koehler got his fifth RBI of the game with a fielder's choice, making it 14-12. The five RBIs give him 60 for the season, which is second-best nationally in that category.
Butler then relied on closer Trever Ezell, who leads the nation in saves with 12. He had thrown a scoreless eighth and was trying for a two-inning save. But he struggled and allowed two runs as Hutchinson tied the game 14-14.
Ezell stayed in the game to pitch a scoreless top of the 10th inning, setting him up to earn the win. In the bottom half of the inning, Shane Bridges led off with a double down the right line. Dalton Wheat's groundout moved him to third base. Hutchinson elected to intentionally walk Ty Redington and Evan Koehler to load the bases. The Blue Dragons then brought the infield in and added their centerfielder as a fifth infielder. Knight was still able to hit a bouncing ball between first and second base into right field to drive in the game-winning run.
Butler will now be on the road for its next five games, with a non-conference game on Wednesday at Tabor JV and a four-game conference series at Pratt on Saturday and Sunday.