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Recktenwald's two-hitter lifts Chargers over Butler

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By Thomas Barr

 LOUISVILLE - After giving up his second hit to the Butler Bears on Wednesday evening, Jonathan Recktenwald made a clear statement to anyone listening in the Bullitt East dugout.
 There would be no more hits allowed while he was on the mound.
 Be it prophetic or just determined, the junior right-hander would not give up another hit after the second inning en route to a 3-0 shutout.
 The victory Wednesday advanced the Bullitt East Chargers to the championship game Friday night of the Sixth Region baseball tournament. A victory over Pleasure Ridge Park would take the Chargers to the state tournament at Whitaker Bank Park in Lexington on Tuesday.
 Charger coach Jeff Bowles said at the beginning of the season, he was looking for Recktenwald to be a member of the starting rotation. However, with his hard work and pre-game preparation, Recktenwald has emerged as the ace of the staff.
 "He dedicated himself to baseball and to being a quality pitcher," said Bowles. "There was no doubt he earned the right to get the ball tonight."
 It was truly a pitchers' duel in Jim Patterson Stadium as Bear starter Blake Beamer and Recktenwald allowed a combined four hits.
 With two outs, Recktenwald had to battle out of a little trouble in the first inning. Dallas Adkins walked and Bryce Carden had an infield single. However, Recktenwald struck out James Ferriell to end the threat.
 In the top of the second, Butler again offered a two-out threat. Rashawn Farrell had an infield single and Joseph Brown followed with a hit and run single. With runners on the corner, Lazaro Sosagonzalez drove Josh Stearns to the warning track in left field to record the final out.
 Final hits. Final threat.
 Bullitt East went hitless in the first two innings.
 With one out in the third, Stearns drove a shot deep into left-field but the fielder dropped the ball for a two-base error. He advanced to third base when the ball got away from the catcher. Colten Maupin's fielder's choice grounder to second plated the first run.
 The only other hit, the first game off the bat of Tyler Minoque in the third, was in the sixth inning.
 The Chargers would score two runs on just one hit to give Recktenwald some cushion.
 Minoque led off and struck out; however, the ball got loose from the catcher and the senior shortstop made it to first safely.
 Two batters later, catcher Hunter Wood roped a ball down the first-base line for the RBI triple.
 The final run cross the plate when Alex Richardson's sacrifice fly scored pinch-runner Jacob Woodruff.
 While Bowles went to four pitchers in Monday's opening victory, he never hesitated to send Recktenwald back to the hill to close out the win.
 After quickly getting two outs, Andrew Hiner walked. But Recktenwald came back to get Sosagonzalez to fly out to end the game.
 "I was expecting to throw today," said Recktenwald, who has won 10 of 11 decisions this season. "I really had more nerves in the regional final than today."
 The advice from the coaching staff was simple - get ahead of the batters and keep the pitch count low.
 Once the contest started, Recktenwald said he felt good the entire game. But he admitted that getting the two insurance runs in the sixth inning certainly made the seventh inning a bit easier.
 "I wanted the ball tonight," said Recktenwald. "I felt great the entire day."
 Bowles felt good about his team, especially its ability to win close games. And while there is always a plan on who would pitch in certain situations, Bowles said he never seriously felt that Recktenwald was coming out of the game.
 "He was determined and focused," said Bowles. "He just prepares so well for each game."
 In March, Beamer defeated Bullitt East 2-0 in Mount Washington. Bowles felt having seen Beamer previously would help his players.
 "This is what we expected in a game between two very competitive programs," said Bowles. "I'm proud to be able to compete against a program like Butler that has Division I players every year."
 Throughout the season, Bullitt East has played tight games and Bowles felt that experience helped in the semifinal victory.
 "These guys just know how to win," said Bowles, whose team won its record 34th game in 40 contests. "Tonight, it made a big difference."