May 8, 2011
Contact: Dan Carr
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Strong defense and a lot of hitting helped Cleveland State take the series against Butler, as the Vikings built a 5-0 lead en route to a 6-2 win on Sunday (May 8).
"We played loose, we got some hits, and we were able to rotate in a lot of guys, all of whom contributed," head coach Kevin Kocks said. "This was a great team win."
After three scoreless innings the Vikings broke onto the scoreboard in the fourth with an RBI single from Alex Gnezda. Alex Johnson doubled into left center and advanced to third on a Zach Thompson groundout. That set up Gnezda who, with two outs on the board, broke the tie with a clean line drive into left field.
The Viking offense really came alive in the sixth inning, scoring four runs to move the lead to 5-0. Cleveland State took advantage of a pair of throwing errors to start the run. Tom Carter reached base on a throwing error, and was able to take second on the play. A balk moved him to third, where Johnson brought him home with a single into left center. Thompson later reached on a fielders choice, stole second and third, and ran home when a throw to third went over the baseman's head, giving CSU a 3-0 lead.
Dylan Schwegler built the lead to five with a two RBI single through the right side. Jason Haditsch later scored on a two-out, RBI single from Johnson in the seventh, a play that featured great base-running by Johnson, as he collided into the Bulldog first baseman to beat out the throw.
Good defense was the key to the Vikings' upholding the shutout, and no play was bigger than the one that ended the third inning. With one out on the board and a runner on second, Thompson dove to catch a fly ball into right, rolling over to maintain possession of the ball. He then got up and made the throw to John Calhoun at third, who dove for the catch, spun around on the ground, and tagged the runner from second for a double play that ended the frame.
Calhoun also kept the shutout alive with a good play in the second. With two outs and runners on first and third, the Viking third baseman fielded a ground and made a good, long throw to first that just beat the runner, keeping Butler off the board.
The Viking defense bent, but didn't break, for most of the day, as CSU allowed 11 hits in the win. Cleveland State contributed 13 hits of its own and didn't commit an error. Johnson was the top hitter, getting four hits in five at bats with two RBI and a run scored. Carter, Schwegler and Haditsch each also had two hits.
Nate Dick (2-4) earned the win, starting on the mound and giving up nine hits but only one run. He also had a strikeout. Nate Blankemeyer relieved Dick, pitching the remaining two innings and retiring the first five batters he faced. Blankemeyer allowed two hits and one run while striking out two.
"Both pitchers did a good job pounding the zone," Kocks said. "They gave up a few hits, but nothing that really hurt us."
The Vikings improve to 11-35 on the season and 4-17 in the Horizon League while Butler is now 18-23 overall and 7-12 in the league. Due to a 9-1 win over the Bulldogs on Saturday (May 7), Cleveland State wins the season series, marking the first series win over a league opponent for the Vikings this year.
Cleveland State will now have four days to prepare for its next action, as the Vikings will host Horizon League opponents UIC and Wright State in back-to-back double headers. The Vikings will play the Flames on Friday (May 13) and the Raiders on Saturday (May 14). Both twinbills will begin at 12:00 noon.