DARIEN – Austin Butler turned in a sparkling pitching performance in a rivalry game against Hinsdale South.
But the Hinsdale Central senior shrugged off any credit after the Red Devils defeated the Hornets 2-0 on April 24.
“I felt good,” Butler said. “Our team knew that this was a big one, a big rivalry. Our defense really stepped up and helped me out on the mound. Everyone really worked together and we played really well today.”
While Butler deflected the praise, Central head coach Jason Ziemer and South skipper Paul Hoel singled out his performance.
“I thought it was by far his best performance and our best [pitching] performance of the year,” Ziemer said. “When a pitcher shuts a team out and completes the game, that’s something special. That doesn’t happen often.”
“He pitched a very good ball game,” Hoel said. “We got ourselves in good spots, we just couldn’t get that timely hit. But credit him, he pitched very well.”
Butler got all the support he would need in the third inning. Jacob White led off with a double and moved to third on Matt Mullner’s groundout before scoring on Ryan Haff’s sacrifice fly. Max Peters then drew a walk and came around to score on Trent Barnett’s single.
Butler scattered six hits and seven strikeouts over seven innings. Hinsdale South advanced runners to third base in the first, second and sixth innings, but Butler got out of the jams each time to help lead the Red Devils to the rivalry win.
“Every game we play, we play with a purpose, and this game definitely is a big rivalry and is definitely important to us,” Butler said.
For Hinsdale South, it was another in a line of narrow losses. The loss dropped the Hornets to 7-6 overall; those six losses came by combined eight runs.
“We’ve played a lot of games that have looked like that – low scoring,” Hoel said. “Actually, if we scored four runs in every game we played, we’d be undefeated. Our pitching has been great and our defense has been good, we just haven’t had the big hit. But we’ve also seen good pitchers. That’s just the way the schedule has fallen, but it will make us better later.”
After the win against South, Central went on to decisive wins against Proviso West in a West Suburban Silver Conference doubleheader Saturday. The Red Devils won 16-1 and 20-0. Nick Senicka tossed a no-hitter in the first game.
South took a pair of West Suburban Gold games against Addison Trail, winning, 5-2 on April 25 and 4-3 on Saturday. But the Hornets suffered another close loss to the Blazers on Wednesday, falling 1-0.
The Hornets start a crucial WSG series against Downers Grove South today, and the series continues at 2 p.m. Saturday and at 4:30 p.m. Monday in Darien. The Mustangs are undefeated in the league at 9-0; the Hornets sit at 7-2.
“We have to win two of three games to have a chance to win conference, so we have to take care of business,” Hoel said.