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Butler skid reaches 6 games with loss to Shaler

Waiting for a win
Butler pitcher (14) Nolan Stefaniak takes a breather after giving up two runs against Shaler in a WPIAL Class 6A section 1 baseball game at Pullman Park in Butler on Thursday April 18, 2024. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)
Butler (14) Nolan Stefaniak is tagged out by Shaler (19) Brady McGuire at second base in a WPIAL Class 6A section 1 baseball game at Pullman Park in Butler on Thursday April 18, 2024. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)

Butler was hoping to break out of its offensive slump before diving back into section play, but Dominic Twigg had other ideas.

Shaler’s senior pitcher limited the Golden Tornado to just one run on four hits over six innings as the defending state champion Titans dealt Butler baseball its sixth straight loss, a 9-3 decision Thursday at Pullman Park.

The Tornado have scored a combined eight runs in their last four games.

“We’re just not having good at-bats. In the last two games, we’ve struck out 21 times,” said Butler coach Josh Forbes. “When we do get runners on base, we’re not sure of ourselves and aren’t getting good jumps.”

Butler (3-8) trailed 7-0 entering its half of the sixth, but had a chance for a big inning when it loaded the bases with no outs against Twigg.

Noah Kollinger and Liam McElroy began the inning with back-to-back singles and Noah Collins drew a walk, prompting Shaler coach Brian Junker to visit the mound. However, he left Twigg in the game.

Junker was rewarded for his patience as Twigg emerged from the jam after allowing just one run — Boden Lenyk’s sacrifice fly that plated Kollinger.

“I have faith in Dom and our defense,” Junker said. “We threw our top two pitchers in section games (against West Allegheny) earlier this week. Dom starts a lot of non-section games for us and every time he’s out there, he does what he did today, which is fill up the zone and keep hitters off-balance.”

The Tornado added a pair of unearned runs in the seventh off Shaler reliever Chase Beran.

Butler starter Nolan Stefaniak, a sophomore, displayed good velocity on his fastball, but after working a perfect first inning, allowed four runs on four hits over the next two frames. Joe Rispoli drilled a run-scoring double in the top of the second. Two more runs scored on wild pitches while the run the Titans (10-2) scored in the third was unearned.

Stefaniak struck out four and walked two in his three innings of work.

“This was Nolan’s third start of the season and he’s got good stuff,” Forbes said. “Today, he was too sporadic around the zone, but he’s going to be electric for us.”

Tanner Pry worked a scoreless fourth frame for the Tornado and Kyle Casteel did likewise in the fifth before surrendering five runs over the final two innings.

Butler will play three Section 1-6A games against Allderdice next week. The top four teams in the five-team section will qualify for the WPIAL playoffs and the Tornado have the opportunity to bury the Dragons at the bottom of the standings.

“The mistakes we’re making are glaring,” said Forbes. “We’re taking our lumps now, but our focus is just get into the playoffs. What Mt. Lebanon did last year (from 10-10 in the regular season to winning a WPIAL title), it shows that anything can happen.

“Just getting a win would be massive for this team’s confidence.”

Shaler 031 003 2 — 9 7 3

Butler 000 001 2 — 3 4 2

W: Dominic Twigg 6 IP (6K, 2BB). L: Nolan Stefaniak 3 IP (4K, 2BB)

Shaler (10-2): Brady McGuire 2-1B R RBI, Alex Venezia 1B R, Landon Schiffhauer 1B 3R, Joe Rispoli 2B R 2RBI, Troy Leas 1B RBI

Butler (3-8): Noah Kollinger 2-1B 2R, Liam McElroy 1B, Boden Lenyk RBI, Trent Best 1B

Monday: Allderdice at Butler

Butler’s Carson Bish makes contact against Shaler in a WPIAL Class 6A section 1 baseball game at Pullman Park in Butler on Thursday April 18, 2024. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)
Butler’s Noah Kollinger, right, high-fives Boden Lenyk after scoring a run against Shaler in a WPIAL Class 6A section 1 baseball game at Pullman Park in Butler on Thursday April 18, 2024. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)
Butler pitcher Nolan Stefaniak delivers a pitch against Shaler in a WPIAL Class 6A section 1 baseball game at Pullman Park in Butler on Thursday April 18, 2024. (Justin Guido/Special to the Eagle)

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