Sunday, April 17, 2016

DePaul takes 2 of 3 games from Butler as Maize's career-high 14 K's makes the difference

                               Photo Credit: Geno Green

On a flawless spring afternoon outside in Chicago, DePaul's Morgan Maize produced a career-high 14 strikeouts in a 5-1 win over Butler to take two of three games at Cacciatore Stadium.

Even as the strikeouts tallied, Maize was more focused on the task at hand– a DePaul win.

"I thought about it, but I had to focus on the here and now," Maize said. "I really don't think about [strikeouts] in the game, but to go over what pitches could have been better."

On top of Maize's dominant performance on the mound, a solo shot to left centerfield broke a 0-0 tie in the bottom of the fifth inning.

"Honestly, it felt awesome and even going up by one run, it felt good to have the cushion going into the next inning," Maize said. "It wasn't that big of a deal when [Butler] scored one and then were able to bust it open in the following inning and it was really cool."

Maize's eighth home run on the season would be countered in the top of the sixth inning with Brandyce Sallie's RBI double to even things at one for Butler.

The Blue Demons, who left seven runners on base in the previous five innings, brought the fire in the bottom portion of the sixth inning with pinch hitter Ellie Forkin's single with 1 out setting up Dylan Christensen's 2-run double to go ahead 3-1.

Catcher Naomi Tellez would add a 2-run single to cap a 4-run sixth inning for DePaul as Maize picked up the win (15-12) in a complete game, while Butler's Mikeila Boroff took the loss (7-4).

DePaul coach Eugene Lenti puts Christensen in the top of the batting order for a purpose and Sunday's game was another illustration.

"It was the biggest hit of the day, but she is one the best hitters and she leads off for a reason," Lenti said. "She leads off for a reason because of her ability to get on base. She will draw walk or get on a base and did a great job in this game."

With a 1.5 game lead on Villanova for the top spot in BIG EAST conference play, Maize knows each game is important and will be treated like a tournament contest.

"Eug told us from we are going to play every game from here on out as if it is the conference championship," Maize said. "So obviously, is it nice to win them and build on the stuff we did well this weekend and work on the stuff we didn't do so well in."

Looking Ahead:

DePaul's homestand continues with a three-game series against St. John's on April 23 and 24.

The teams play a doubleheader on the 23rd at Noon and 2 p.m., with the series finale on the 24th at 11 a.m. on the BIG EAST Digital Network.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.