VANDALIA – After surrendering a run to the visiting Centerville Elks in the first inning, the Butler Aviators wasted little time in striking back.
Leadoff batter Dusty Lewis connected with the second pitch he saw and launched a towering home run to right field to tie the game at 1-1, and Butler tacked on three more runs in a four-run first enroute to a 7-6 win on Friday afternoon.
“These are two pretty good baseball teams, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them again down the road,” said Butler head coach Trent Dues.
The Aviators kept their record spotless as they moved to 4-0 while the Elks continue an early season of one-run losses and fell to 1-3.
Mitch Gremling took the mound for the Aviators in a game that was originally scheduled for Thursday evening at Wright State. Storms washed that date out, and the contest moved to Butler on a cool, blustery afternoon.
Centerville capitalized on a walk in the first to claim a 1-0 lead before Lewis’ lightning bolt tied the game at 1-1.
Butler took advantage of five walks by the Elk starter. Tyler Burley, Damon Dues, Matt Grossman, Noah Ballard, and Logan Flatt all received free passes while Chandler Craine and Torin Fletcher hit sacrifice flies to drive in a run each.
Butler couldn’t hold the lead, however, with three hits and a pair of errors allowing the Elks to score four times and retake the lead at 5-4.
The Aviators used some craftiness, speed, and power to score three times in the second which proved all the offense they would need.
Burley got things started with a single to right, and then Dues reached on an error that moved Burley to third and Dues to second.
Grossman followed with an infield single on a slow roller to short. Dues took advantage of the shortstop’s hesitation and rounded third but was caught in a rundown. The Elks appeared to have Dues caught for an easy out, but as the pitcher tried to apply a tag, Dues went to the ground and avoided it and then scrambled head first to home plate for a run.
Craine followed with a booming double off the fence in right-center to drive in Grossman and give the Aviators a 7-5 lead.
Gavin Kohler came into the game in relief of Gremling and pitched two scoreless innings, but the Elks scored in the sixth on a short single to left that was perfectly placed. Burley relieved Kohler in the sixth and recorded the final four outs.
“It was really tough to pitch today,” said Dues. “The conditions were very tough. Gremling got us started, our defense was good except for one play, and Kohler came in and did what we needed him to do. Burley had a really live ball which is a nice weapon to have.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.