South Orange: Where dreams become nightmares
In this glorious matchup between the two highest powered offenses in the conference we see the Butler Bulldogs visiting South Orange to take on the Seton Hall Pirates. Ranking 1st and 2nd in runs scored, this series should offer a whole lot of scoring. As the working man's schedule has taken a firm grasp on my fingers and wrists, I am writing this preview a day late, thus I'll give you a quick recap of what occurred in game one:
Seton Hall 6 Butler 4
Prendergast gave up a 3-run DINGER! to Butler's Austin Miller in the top of the fourth to give the Bulldogs a 4-2 lead (Seton Hall scored once in the 1st & 2nd innings off of efficient base knocks, only to score again in the same style in the bottom of the fourth to cut Butler's lead to 4-3) Seton Hall then relies on a sac-fly, a groundout and a single in the 6th, 7th & 8th to inevitably win the game. Butler is last in the league in allowing runners on base to score, so the fact that Seton Hall was able to nickel & dime their way to victory came as no shock. Prendergast went 7, giving up 6 hits, 4 runs - and, get this - NONE OF THEM EARNED according to Butler's mainpage. Ridiculous. How is a homerun not counted as an earned run?! I'm weeping gently on my information sources right now. Prendergast also struck out 7 and walked 1. Jeff Schank, the only ray of hope for the Bulldog's pitching staff, went 6 - giving up only 4 runs, 3 earned, and also struck out 7. Pobereyko came in and gave up the winning runs, which is terrible and saddening. Get better, Danny. Anthony Elia received the save for the Pirates.
Now on to a preview of the final two games:
Look out! Powerful Bats!
Sal Annunziata, who is on first-team All-Name for the Big East Conference, wields a pretty decent bat for the Pirates. He currently leads the team in DINGERS! with 4 and has collected 20 RBIs. Kyle Grimm is also having a great year for the pirates with a delicious slashline of .360/.453/.442 with 20 RBIs, 14 walks and only 8 strikeouts. While Seton Hall can just beat you on the basepaths, the Butler Bulldogs seem to enjoy pounding the snot out of the ball as often as possible. Chris Marras and Tyler Houston are tied on the team with 3 DINGERS! and 31 RBIs between them. Marras has a questionable slashline of .260/.389/.455 and strikes out often with 11 on the year. Houston, on the other hand, has an MVP-worthy slashline of .325/.407/.492, has collected 39 hits, 7 of them doubles and even has 2 triples on the year. Rarely striking out and having supreme patience at the plate (9Ks, 17BB), he's definitely our bat-to-watch for on Saturday & Sunday. Congrats, Tyler! You're the bat to watch in this series! Here, have an imaginary box of juice!
Poor Pitching & Defense
Seton Hall ranks dead last in double plays turned on the year. Butler ranks dead last in ERA. You combine these two metrics and you'll have a high scoring affair. Granted, Seton Hall has McCarthy - who holds a staunch 1.83 ERA - and DiBenedetto - who is absolutely lights-out with a 0.000000000 ERA and 9 strikeouts through 8.2 innings pitched. To protect from embarrassing the Butler squad, who is no longer able to use Jeff Schank lest they want to destroy the kid's arm, I will only post one statistic that may answer some questions for you: other than Schank, there's one pitcher on their roster with a sub-5 ERA. His name is Josh Goldberg, and along with Jeff Schank, should be immortalized with statues on the grounds of Bulldog Park as he holds a 2.91 ERA through 21.2 innings pitched.
Look, Seton Hall is pretty much guaranteed the 3-seed at this point. Far and away they're the 3rd best team in the conference. If you think I'm incorrect, leave lots of comments below or tweet @crimebait with your pointy, disgusting words. Butler, however, is not within the top 4. They could be, given their ability to hit DINGERS! and score lots of runs, but they do not have any quality pitching other than Jeff Schank and Josh Goldberg. If Butler finds a way to crush the ball past the bottom-four teams, they might have a shot, but sitting winless in conference is not where they want to be. I guarantee that. If Butler can get a game from Seton Hall then I'd actually consider them a contender for the 4th slot. If they can't, they're doomed.