Butler baseball coach Trent dues feared the worst when the Aviators were rocked by Chaminade Julienne in a season opener and were staggering at 1-2. Besides, standout senior pitcher and Wright State University recruit Braedon Norman was still recovering from Tommy John surgery the previous year.
“Other guys have stepped up,” said Dues following a 6-5 defeat of Mason in a Division I district final at Kings High School on Thursday. “The guys have really overachieved. We’ve had some really big surprises.”
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Butler (24-6) advances to a D-I regional semifinal at 2 p.m. Thursday at the University of Cincinnati’s Marge Schott Stadium against the Hamilton Badin/Cincinnati Turpin winner. Butler hasn’t ventured that deep into the D-I postseason since 2012.
Butler bunched five runs in the first inning off UC recruit and losing pitcher Evan Kemp (9-2). Aviators senior Cam Miller (3-1) struck out five in 6.1 innings and earned the win. Butler senior reliever Quinton Hall added a game-saving assist by coaxing the final two outs and two runners on.
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Mason (25-4), had a 13-game win streak snapped and was loaded with five NCAA D-I recruits. Norman, Butler’s only signee, has pitched 11.2 innings this season.
“If you would have told me we’d have done this with without Norman, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Dues said. “They play the game with a lot of enthusiasm and heart and sometimes that’s bigger than maybe talent. They’re that kind of group.”
Dues, in his 25th year as Butler’s coach, surpassed 500 coaching wins this season.
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Springboro 9, Cin. West Clermont 5: Logan Walters had an RBI-double, Josh Collins a two-run single and pitcher Tyler Kean earned the win as the Panthers won their first D-I district championship and first overall since 2002 at Centerville.
Springboro (23-6) will take a six-game win streak into a D-I regional semifinal against Elder (21-9) at 5 p.m. Thursday at UC.
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Cin. Elder 15, Centerville 6: The Panthers won their 31st district title in a D-I matchup at Princeton. Centerville (22-7) was led by senior Morgan Colopy, who reached base four times.
Hamilton Ross 1, Kenton Ridge 0: The Rams scored in the bottom of the seven for a walk-off D-II district final win at Carlisle. The Cougars (22-6) had a seven-game win streak snapped.
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Versailles 13, Dayton Christian 11: The Tigers tallied four runs in the bottom of the sixth to win a restarted D-III district final shootout at Kenton Ridge. The contest was suspended from Wednesday due to rain. Versailles (16-9) is paired against Middletown Madison (24-6) in a D-III regional semifinal at 5 p.m. Thursday at Wright State.
Dayton Christian (21-7) won its third straight Metro Buckeye Conference title under first-year coach Doug Adams and is 29-1 in the conference in that span.
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Coldwater 11, Fort Recovery 1: Austin Riethman had three home runs and six RBIs in a D-III district semi at Elida. Coldwater (22-6) will play Liberty Benton in a district final at Elida on Saturday.
Mechanicsburg 9, Cin. Seven Hills 5: The Indians scored five unanswered runs to win a D-IV district title at Versailles, their first since 1965. Mechanicsburg (21-7) advances to a D-IV regional semifinal at Carleton Davidson Stadium in Springfield at 5 p.m. Thursday against the Minster/New Bremen district final winner.
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