VANDALIA — Getting hot at the right time can often be a key to a tournament run, and the Butler Aviator baseball team hopes to ride late season momentum to do just that.
The Aviators kicked off the postseason on Thursday by taking advantage of several Tecumseh miscues to win their fourth straight game by a score of 11-1 and advance to the sectional semifinals next Thursday versus Springboro.
Butler improved to 17-10 overall with the win and will face the Panthers on Thursday, May 17 at Northmont High School. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Tecumseh was able to push a run across in the bottom of the second versus Butler starter Ryan Qvick, but an inning later the Aviators took a lead they would never surrender.
Butler’s Evan McKinney got the Aviators started with a one-out double in the third which was followed by a triple to right-center by Dolen Fults. McKinney’s run tied the score at 1-1. Boston Smith drove in Fults on a sacrifice fly to lift Butler to a 2-1 lead.
The wheels came off for the visiting Arrows in the fourth. Four errors, combined with three wild pitches and a passed ball allowed the Aviators to bat around and score seven runs.
Karter Peck got the rally started after reaching on a throwing error. Joe Jackson folloed and also reached on an error that allowed Peck to advance to third. Carson Clark hit a slow roller to shortstop for an infield hit and an RBI, and after Clark and Jackson advanced on a wild pitch, Cam Miller made the Arrows pay for their mistakes with a single to center to drive in a pair of runs.
Miller stole second and third bases and was driven in on a single by McKinney to give Butler a 6-1 lead.
Fults came to the plate for a second time and hit a single to right, but a throwing error by Tecumseh allowed McKinney to score and Fults to advance to third. Smith hit a single to right to drive in Fults for the final run of the 8-run outburst to give the Aviators a 9-1 lead.
Qvick made quick work of the Arrows in the top half of the fifth, and the Aviators were ready to pounce.
After a pitching change, Arrows had a hard time finding the plate. McKinney led off with a walk followed by another walk to Clark. Jack Mitchell, running for McKinney, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error. Mitchell scored on a wild pitch and then Miller was hit by a pitch.
McKinney moved Clark and Miller to third with a sacrifice bunt, and then a pair of walks to Smith and Tofstad advanced the winning run.
“This was a great win,” said an exuberant Trent Dues following the victory. “The first few innings were tight and then we made some things happen. I’m proud of how our guys stuck with it and finally broke through.”