Butler delivers for Bison against Tigers

Mar. 26, 2013 @ 09:19 PM

Hansen Butler knew he was going to have to work extra hard when he took the mound against Piedmont Triad 4A Conference rival Ragsdale, especially in the face of 40-degree weather and a strong wind.

Butler worked to stay warm and pitched five scoreless innings, striking out nine, as High Point Central cruised to a 6-1 win Tuesday against the Tigers.

“It was cold out there, I was doing a lot to stay loose,” Butler said. “I was really able to get the curveball working tonight and got the fastball and changeup in there to mix it up. It was overall a good outing.”

Ragsdale managed just three hits off the all-conference pitcher. Two came on weak ground balls that the Bison weren’t able to field cleanly.

“He was really sharp tonight,” Bison coach Ken Morgan said. “He’s doing a great job of doing what we ask him to do – pound the strike zone, mix in the curveball and get us deeper into games. That’s what we needed from him.” 

Hansen improved to 2-0 on the season in his four starts as the team’s ace. He worked ahead of hitters with his powerful fastball and used a strong curveball to keep Tiger hitters off balance with two strikes.

“My curveball was my out pitch tonight,” Butler said. “My goal is to get ahead early of these hitters and go to the changeup or curve to get the strikeout.” 

Central, coming off a big win Friday against Southwest Guilford, stands 8-2 overall, 5-1 in the PTC midway through the season.

“We feel really good about where we are right now,” Morgan said. “Tonight was a great win for us. Ragsdale knows how to hit the ball, too.”

Ragsdale totaled just four hits, as its lone run came in sixth inning off Central relief pitcher Josh Wilson. Alex Burnette came on in the seventh to close out the victory 1-2-3.

“We had a couple of rough games in the beginning, but I think we are showing a lot of potential right now,” Butler said.

Central got things going in the top of the third inning. A two-run double by catcher Colin Fowler and an RBI base hit from Trevor Gay put the Bison up 3-0.

Fowler and Central added two additional runs in the top of the fifth off starting pitcher Tim Ambrose. Fowler finished 2 for 2 with three RBIs and a run scored.

“We count on that six hole,” Morgan said of Fowler. “He’s going to get opportunities, pretty much all the time. When he comes through, he’s pretty clutch.” 

Central touched up Ragsdale’s relief pitchers in the later innings for six of its 10 hits, and an insurance run in the seventh. Central’s hitters drew four walks as well.

The loss is Ragsdale’s fourth straight, but the Tigers (6-7, 3-4 PTC) can rebound Thursday against Parkland, a team that it put up 30 runs against earlier this month.

Central plays Dudley today in Greensboro.