INDIANAPOLIS - What started out as a pitchers' duel between the Indiana State University and Butler University baseball teams on Tuesday afternoon turned into an offensive show, as the Sycamores scored 19 runs over the final five innings to turn a 1-0 game after four innings into a 20-7 rout at Bulldog Park in Indianapolis.
"It was a good team win," said head coach Rick Heller. "After a weekend when we didn't swing the bats all that well, we came out and swung them great today."
The breakout player of the game was freshman Jake Hartley, who hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning, a grand slam in the eighth and a two-RBI double in the ninth in his first action of the 2010 season. Hartley, who began the season as a redshirt, finished the game 3-4 at the plate with a pair of home runs, eight RBI, three runs scored and two walks.
"Jake Hartley in his first game was unreal. I'm really happy for him, because a game like that doesn't happen very often," said Heller. "It was a good midweek win after a tough weekend. You never know how a team is going to come out after not practicing before a game, but I was glad to see our guys come out with a lot of energy today."
The Sycamores (18-8, 3-3 MVC) never trailed on Tuesday, as they scored a run in the first inning for the fourth straight game. Senior Ryan Strausborger led off the game with a single to center field before stealing second base. Sophomore Kyle Burnam struck out when he came to the plate, but was able to reach first when the ball got away from the Butler catcher, also allowing Strausborger to reach third base. With one-out senior Luke Fieser drove in the game's first run on a sacrifice fly to right field to put ISU up 1-0.
That's the way the score would remain through the next four innings, before the Sycamores plated four runs in the top of the fifth inning. With one out, senior Ben Ferrell tallied an infield single before moving to second base when Strausborger was hit by a pitch. Burnam would drive in Ferrell for the first run of the inning on a double to center field. ISU did the rest of their work in the fifth with two outs, beginning with Fieser lacing a double down the left field line to score both Strausborger and Burnam. Freshman Robby Ort drove in the final run of the inning with an RBI single to plate Fieser to give ISU a 5-0 lead.
Butler (8-17, 1-5 Horizon) cut the ISU lead to 5-2 with two runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth inning, only to see ISU's offense turn up the heat for the remainder of the game.
The Sycamores scored two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings, with a two-run long ball from Hartley in the sixth. Freshman Jeremy Lucas and Ferrell both picked up RBIs in the seventh.
Indiana State really went to work on the Butler pitching staff in the eighth inning, bringing 13 batters to the plate and scoring eight runs in the inning. In the inning, Ort picked up two RBIs on a bases loaded single before freshman Steve Ball notched an RBI with a single of his own. After an infield single by Lucas, Hartley hit his second home run of the day, this one with the bases loaded for a grand slam. Fieser would tally ISU's final run of the inning on a two-out single to score Ferrell and put the Sycamores in front 17-2.
Freshman Jordan Pearson led off the top of the ninth with a double before Lucas joined him on the bases with a walk. Hartley continued his stellar day with a two-RBI double down the right field line before scoring later in the inning on a passed ball for the final run of the day for the Sycamores.
A plethora of pitchers saw the mound for the Sycamores against the Bulldogs, with the combination of JT Stenftenagel, Brett Merkley, Brandon Flora, Blake Drake, Scott Harlan, Brandon Dorsett, Jacob Petricka and Kevin Mann limiting Butler to just five hits over the first eight innings on Tuesday.
The Sycamores will not have much time to rest before hitting the road again, as they continue their nine-game road swing to begin the month of April with a three-game series in Charleston, South Carolina, against The Citadel beginning Friday. First pitch on Friday is set for 4:00 p.m. and can be heard live on 89.7 FM WISU.