Smith, Butler’s catcher, tripled in the top half of the seventh inning and scored what proved to be the winning run on Preston Tofstad’s perfect suicide squeeze bunt.
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»TWITTER: You should like @MarcPendletonA left-handed reliever, Hall followed Butler starter Ryan Qvick (five innings, three hits, four strikeouts) and allowed just one unearned run over the final two innings. With a runner on third, he had a final punch-out to clinch the clutch win.
“It’s our first year here and we’re trying to make a difference for our school and the community,” said Hall.
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Butler (18-11) is scheduled to play the Cincinnati Moeller/Kings winner in a D-I district final at 11 a.m. Saturday at Hamilton High School. The Moeller/Kings game was one of many that was postponed or suspended because of rain on Thursday and rescheduled for Friday.
Moeller (22-6) won consecutive D-I state championships from 2013-15 and will be a heavy favorite to advance. The Crusaders also walloped host Butler 13-3 in the regular season last month.
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Butler was regularly a No. 1-2 sectional seed in recent seasons. Hit hard by graduation, the Aviators were third in the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North behind co-champs Tippecanoe and Troy. Butler sank to a No. 6 sectional seed this season.
Youthful Butler also has made this unlikely postseason run without its pitching ace, junior Braedon Norman (3-2). He suffered an injury to his right arm and underwent surgery two weeks ago. Verbally committed to Wright State University, Norman (3-2) struck out 47 in 31 innings and had a 1.58 ERA.
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“We’re kind of playing with house money,” admitted Dues, who endured a Gatorade bucket of water over the head by the Aviators afterward. “We’ll enjoy this (Thursday), but we obviously have our hands full.”
Qvick (5-1) has taken over the go-to starter role for the Aviators, although it was Hall (5-3) who earned Thursday’s win. Butler led 2-0 in the first inning. Springboro overcame a 3-0 deficit and pulled even at 3-all with runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings. Jacob DeMoss had Butler’s other two hits.
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Springboro finishes 20-9 after winning the GWOC National West (9-2). Panthers junior pitcher Tyler Kean (8-1) went the distance. Despite allowing just three hits, he was tagged with his first loss.
• Other sectional finals that were suspended or postponed and rescheduled for Friday were Beavercreek vs. Centerville at Xenia (D-I), Troy vs. Northmont at Centerville (D-I), Tippecanoe vs. Bellbrook at Miamisburg (D-II) and Chaminade Julienne vs. Oakwood at Eaton (D-II).
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Beavercreek and Centerville were scoreless in the top of the second inning. CJ, the D-II defending state runner-up, led Oakwood 7-4 in the bottom of the sixth.
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• Softball district finals in all divisions were scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
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