Coming into Friday afternoon’s Big East opener against Butler, the Pirates (14-13, 0-1) were swinging some hot bats and riding high off a nine-run outburst in their last game against Wagner. However, Butler starter Jeff Schank had something to say about that as his performance led the Bulldogs (20-8, 1-0) to a 6-2 victory.
The lefty entered the day with a 1.12 ERA and turned in another strong performance, allowing only one run over eight innings while striking out nine.
It was a pitcher’s duel to start things off, as Seton Hall starter Zach Prendergast matched zeroes with Schank through the first three and a half innings. The Pirates struck first in the bottom of the third with the spark coming from Connor Hood, who led off the inning with a single and proceeded to take two bases on a wild pitch which the Butler catcher had trouble locating.
Schank settled down and retired the next two hitters, but Ryan Ramiz worked his way back from a 0-2 count to draw a two-out walk and cleanup hitter Matt Fortin drove Hood home on an infield single to give Seton Hall an early 1-0 edge.
Butler bounced back with a run of its own in the top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly after Prendergast gave up two consecutive hits to start the inning.
The Bulldogs stayed hot in the top of the fifth with a one-out single. Seton Hall left fielder Rob Dadona misplayed the ball, allowing the runner to reach second base and Butler cashed in on its next at bat, driving him home to take the lead for good.
Seton Hall had a chance to even things up in the bottom half of the inning, but Schank was able to get Mikael-Ali Mogues swinging with runners on first and third to end the inning.
The dagger for Seton Hall came in the top of the sixth, where Butler was able to plate three runs and knock Prendergast out of the game.
Seton Hall made some noise in the bottom of the ninth when pinch hitter Matt Toke drove home Mike Alescio, but it was too little too late as Butler quickly shut the door on any chance at a Seton Hall comeback.
Sophomore Cullen Dana will get the start for Seton Hall on Saturday afternoon as the Pirates continue their three-game series with Butler.
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @tyler.calvaruso.