VANDALIA – Sporting the vibrant, purple jerseys with the word BUTLER emblazoned across their chests, the Aviators came out looking and feeling like a different team.
From the onset of Tuesday’s rematch with Tippecanoe, Butler came out with a swagger and a game plan that can only be described with one word.
That aggression paid dividends, netting the Aviators an exhilarating, walk-off win over rival the rival Red Devils.
“I’m very proud of this group of guys, as they have battled a tough schedule and some key injuries, but refuse to give up,” said head Coach Trent Dues after the game.
For Butler, it started on the mound where southpaw Ryan Qvick (4-1) went right after the Tippecanoe hitters, in what was an incredible pitching performance for the senior.
Through 6 1/3 innings of work Qvick struck out six, allowed only two walks and did not give up an earned run.
He was backed by a solid defense that turned two critical double plays in the second and third innings to extinguish early Red Devil threats.
Butler jumped on Tippecanoe early, when senior Preston Tofstad tripled on a shot that scored Dolen Fults for an early 1-0 lead.
The stalemate went on for another five innings.
The Aviators executed double steals, attempted a few steals of home plate, and generally kept the Red Devils on edge and out of sorts all evening.
Tippecanoe finally got on the board in the sixth inning, plating two unearned runs to take the late 2-1 lead.
Undeterred, the Aviators got to work in the bottom half of the inning.
Senior Jake DeMoss got things going with a leadoff liner to left field. Karter Peck followed that with a textbook sacrifice bunt, moving the tying run to second.
Senior Joe Jackson sent another single shot to left, scoring DeMoss and knotting the game at 2-2.
With one out in the top of the seventh, Tofstad took to the mound and was lights out for the Aviators, giving Butler a chance to put the game away in the seventh.
They did just that.
“Ryan continued his stellar work on the mound and Preston came in and pitched clutch in that last inning,” Dues said.
Senior Jack Mitchell leadoff with a single to center and Cam Miller’s sacrifice bunt put him aboard at second. After Fults was intentionally walked, freshman Boston Smith delivered the game winning shot to left field, as Mitchell was waved around third into a jubilant sea of purple and a 3-2 Butler win.
“Boston Smith continues to play beyond his year, with that nice rope to score Mitchell,” said Dues.
After the tough bounces that this team has faced during the season, the win wasa welcome one.
“This was a great win for our team,” said Dues. “We have had some adversity, but these guys refuse to quit.”
Coupled with a 7-3 win at West Carrollton on Thursday, the Aviators improved to 11-4 in GWOC North play and 15-10 overall.
Butler will host Beavercreek on Monday, May 7 at 6 p.m. for Senior Night. The Aviators will host the opening round of the OHSAA Dayton Sectional Tournament on Thursday, May 10 at 5 p.m. against either Tecumseh or Stebbins.
Reach Ryan Wallace at VandaliaButlerBaseball.com.