As a senior sub, it’s Charlie Dent’s job to jump-start Butler baseball. He did just that with the season on the line on Thursday afternoon.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to do all season, no matter how I do it, on the field or off it,” said Dent following a 4-2 loss to Cincinnati Turpin in a Division I regional semifinal at the University of Cincinnati’s Marge Schott Stadium. “Just help out my team as best I can.”
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Turpin (18-10) advances to Friday’s D-I regional final against the Springboro/Elder winner. Those teams played the second semi on Thursday.
Trailing by three runs, Dent began the bottom of the seventh inning for the Aviators with a pinch-hit single. Two more hits followed and Butler had the bases loaded with one out, its best scoring opportunity.
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Bryon Greaser raced home to pull Butler within the final score, but Turpin coaxed a third out and Butler’s season was ended.
Turpin, coached by Don Gullett, the son of the former Cincinnati Reds pitcher, bunched three runs in the sixth inning to break a 1-all tie. Two runs scored when Butler make three fielding errors on the same play.
“You can’t do that against (Turpin),” Butler coach Trent Dues said. “I thought we were going to do it in the seventh. We didn’t get a lot of two-out hits. That’s baseball; you don’t do that, you don’t win.”
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Cody Borchers and Boston Smith each had three hits for Butler. The Aviators were playing without senior pitcher Braeden Norman, A Wright State signee who is still recovering from arm surgery last year and returning sophomore starting infielder Carson Clark, who blew an ACL in basketball and missed the entire baseball season.
“We had a great season,” Dues said. “Nobody expected us to do this and I’m proud of the guys. It just didn’t work out. It was a fun group. I enjoyed it.”
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That left it to Springboro to become the area’s first big-school state final four rep since Miamisburg in 2006.
• Springboro (23-6) was scheduled to play Elder (21-6) in Thursday’s D-I nightcap. It’s the first D-I regional appearance for Springboro, which last played in a D-II regional in 2002.
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Coach Mark Pelfrey’s Panthers own a seven-game win streak and won their three postseason games by a combined 33-7, including 9-5 over West Cermont in a district final.
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• The Division II and IV regional semifinals were postponed because of unplayable field conditions. In D-II at Mason, Franklin (25-6) will play Hamilton Ross (23-4) at 2 p.m. Friday. Defending D-II state champ Chaminade Julienne (23-2) follows against Granville (18-6) at 5 p.m.
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In Friday’s D-IV regional semis at Carleton Davidson Stadium in Springfield, Russia (13-16) continues its improbable postseason against Cincinnati Christian (17-5) at 2 p.m. Minster (20-7) is matched against Mechanicsburg (19-5) at 5 p.m.
Those finals are set for noon Saturday.
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