Butler freshman Braedon Norman just missed the second no-hitter of his very young career as the Aviators completed a sweep of punchless Troy.
Vandalia – The Troy Trojans entered Tuesday’s game with the Butler Aviators scoreless in their last 14 innings.
“Everything was working,” said the soft-spoken Norman. “Change was working, curve was working, and they weren’t touching it. When things are going like that you just want to keep the rhythm going. Keep the pace up.”
The last thing they needed was to face Braedon Norman.
Norman, Butler’s freshman sensation, held the Trojans to a measly 7th inning infield single and struck-out 12 as Butler won 2-0. The win improved Norman to 4-0 and his team to 14-0.
“We aren’t hitting at all,” said Troy coach Ty Welker in a silent Troy dugout after his team had been blanked for the third straight time. “We have no mental approach at the plate and we’re guessing. Taking nothing away from Norman, who pitched an outstanding game. But we have to compete at some point, and we didn’t do that at the plate tonight.”
Butler scored the only runs of the game in the bottom of the first. Troy senior Jordan Peck gave up a one out double to Tyler Burley, a walk to Matt Grossman, and a base-hit to Chandler Craine that scored Burley. The ball was mis-handled in the outfield, and that error allowed Grossman to score easily.
On this day, that is all the hard-hitting Aviators would get.
Peck held Butler, hitting .375 as a team coming in, to three hits. He walked two, struck out two, and hit a batter. He was good enough to win 99% of the time, but not when paired against Norman.
The Butler right-hander retired the first five he faced before walking Jake Daniel with two out in the second. He then set down 15 straight before facing Austin Barney with two out in the 7th. The Trojan right-fielder, who had struck out in his previous two at bats, topped a slow roller up the third base line and beat it out, despite a valiant effort from Butler third baseman Burley.
Norman, who threw a no-hitter against Edgewood in his first varsity start on March 29th, said the hit was disappointing.
“Wish I could have that one back. I just had to look at the score, re-focus, and get that last out.”
Norman took a moment to compose himself, then struck out Alex Reidel to end it.
On the day, Norman walked one and struck out 12 and needed just 90 pitches to do it.
“He was really on,” said Butler’s veteran head coach Trent Dues. “He throws three pitches for strikes, he locates well and has some fantastic stuff. It’s too bad that’s the kind of hit they got. You don’t mind as much if it’s a line drive, but that’s baseball. Give Troy credit. Their guy pitched well, they played defense, but Craine got the big hit for us in the first and that was the difference in the ballgame.”
That stat that bothered Welker the most was the number of called third strikes the Trojans took. There were 5 in all, including four straight in the fourth and fifth innings.
“We never took the bat off our shoulder,” Welker said, shaking his head. “I don’t understand that. I have never had that mindset in my life. Somehow we have to get through to these guys that you have to at least swing the bat. We mixed up the lineup today with five new guys, but we have to swing. I don’t care how good that guy on the mound might be, there is no excuse for not swinging the bat. We have to figure out a way around that, for sure.”
The Trojans coach had high praise for his man on the hill.
“Jordan certainly deserved a better fate. He gave up one earned run and that’s a very good hitting team. He struggled there in the first inning, but he settled down and started throwing first pitch strikes. He grinded it out against every hitter and threw a great game.
“We played well defensively. That hasn’t always been the case, but tonight we made all the plays except for that one on the base hit in the first inning. As a pitcher, you feel comfortable pitching to contact when you know the defense will make the plays behind you.”
In knocking the Trojans out of the North Division race, the Aviators had 2 runs, three hits, no errors, five runners left on. Troy didn’t threaten once, and had the one hit, one error and two left on.
The Aviators are now 6-0 in the GWOC North, and have allowed 2 runs in those 6 games. The only other team with a chance to catch Butler is Piqua, and the Indians and Aviators play their home and home series next week.
Dues said his team is focused on the immediate future.
“No sense thinking about what we have done. Our guys come out and are focused on the task at hand. They love to play the game, and you can only do that one day at a time.”
“We are not going to quit, that’s for sure,” Welker said as he headed for the bus and what figured to be a short but quiet ride home. “We have been a tournament team the past few years, and our mindset is to get ready for that. We like to do well in the GWOC, but we have to move on. We have Springboro in on Friday and Tipp City Saturday morning, so we aren’t getting any breaks. And you know what? No one is feeling sorry for us either. It’s up to us to figure this out.”