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East falters against Butler, then roars past Rebels

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By Mike Farner

MOUNT WASHINGTON - For the second time this season, the Bullitt East Chargers had trouble against a top-flight opponent on Thursday as they lost to Sixth Region rival Butler 15-10.

While scoring ten runs was a good thing in the eyes of head coach Jeff Bowles, the other parts of the game suffered for the Chargers including poor pitching performances from the team’s top two arms - juniors Brandon Alphin and Matt Bowles.

Bullitt East did bounce back on Saturday, taking a pair of lopsided wins over Atherton, 18-0 and 21-0.

Still, it was the game against Butler that was the big game of the week and the Chargers just did not play very well in dropping just their second game of the season.

Bullitt East had defeated Butler 6-0 in last year’s Sixth Region Tournament semi-finals with Alphin pitching a complete game. On Thursday, the Bears scored four times in the top of the first and added another run in the second. After Butler scored twice in the fourth, the Chargers made a pitching change.

Bowles breezed through two innings and when the Chargers scored three times in the bottom of the sixth, they were within 7-6. That didn’t last long as Butler exploded for eight runs in the top of the seventh to put the game on ice.

“Other than scoring ten runs against a good pitcher, it was a pretty bad day,” Jeff Bowles said of his team’s performance. “We did get it back to a one-run game and then things came unglued.”

Alphin pitched the first four innings and all seven of the runs that he allowed were earned. The junior allowed seven hits while striking out six and walking four. He also had a balk.

Bowles struck out five batters in the first two innings that he worked, but then lost the strike zone. Butler got the walks and then blasted a grand slam to put the game out of reach.

Sophomore Cody Morris then came in and got the last out on one pitch.

Bullitt East finished with ten hits in the game including a pair of doubles by Alphin as he drove in six runs. The junior collected three hits as did second baseman Jimmy Hoffman who drove in two runs. Matt Bowles collected two hits.

“Sometimes that just happens in baseball,” Jeff Bowles said of the poor performance that came after a six-day lay-off since the team had played in Florida. “We’ll learn from it and get better.”

Bullitt East got to take out their frustrations on Atherton on Saturday, rolling to a pair of lopsided wins. Atherton had given Bullitt East a pretty good game last year, but that team graduated a lot of seniors and was no match this season.

In the first game, Bowles sent senior Justin Jones to the mound and he got the win as he retired all nine batters that he faced, six of those by strike-out. Christian Bailey worked the last two innings and allowed only one hit while striking out three.

The Bullitt East offense collected 19 hits. Matt Bowels and Tyler Downs each had a pair of doubles while Morris and Cory Johnson added doubles. Downs, Johnson and Hoffman each had three hits while Josh Whitmer added two wingles.

The second game was almost identical despite the fact that the Chargers used a lot of different players and combinations.

Pat Revel go the start on the mound and he worked three innings with one hit and six strike-outs. Kyle Ethridge and Morris each worked one inning.

In the two games, the Bullitt East pitching allowed just two hits and one walk.

Hoffman provided the power in the second game as the senior belted a pair of home runs. Alphin added two doubles as he had three hits and Jones had a double. Both Whitmer and Jones finished with two hits.

That action left Bullitt East with an 8-2 record heading into games this week.

Bullitt East was hoping to play North Bullitt on Monday but that game was rained out and they were going to try again on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Chargers have another key district showdown when they travel to Southern for a game at 7:30 p.m.