By Bruce Sayler
Murderers’ Row described the entire Butte High lineup Thursday.
The Bulldogs walloped 35 hits, including three home runs and 12 doubles while opening their home schedule and their Western AA Conference slate with an 18-17, 17-2 doubleheader sweep of Missoula Big Sky at Stodden Park.
The first game ended with a walkoff single by Aubree Corcoran and the second one was called after five innings because of the 10-run difference rule.
Corcoran drove in 10 runs in the twin bill while going 7-for-11 at the plate. Freshman Rian Ferriter shoulder the pitching load for both games, though received welcome relief help from both Madison Skeel and Bryn Godbout. Senior ace McCaul McCarthy was missing because of a strained mediate cruciate ligament (MCL) suffered earlier this week.
Head coach Ryan Stosich said McCarthy’s situation is a wait-and-see predicament in which rest is first being attempted to heal the injury. She has been the Butte High No. 1 pitcher since her sophomore year, though the season was lost last year to the covid-19 suspension.
Jordyn Bolton slugged two home runs in the first game, including a tape-measure blast over left field. Ferriter socked her career-first homer in the opener, too. The blasts helped rescue a Bulldog win after Big Sky had gained a 6-0 lead.
Kodie Hoagland and Ferriter both collected six hits in the nearly five-hour twin bill played in 40ish-degree temperatures chilled wickedly more by a stiff wind.
“I liked the way the girls came back in that first game after being down 6-0,” Stosich said. “They just tucked their tails and fought back. We’re still cleaning up some things, but this was a good effort, overall.”
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Butte High entered the game with an 0-3 record after a nonconference loss at Billings Senior and two at Belgrade.
“We’re hitting the ball and stringing the hits together,” Stosich noted. “Our pitchers did an all right job. The injury to McCaul put a lot of pressure on pitchers who wouldn’t ordinarily have been in that pressure.”
He lauded Bolton’s efforts, not only for her home runs, but also for catching both ends of the doubleheader in the challenging cold of the day. Ferriter had a big hit and (Mia) Antonioli, hitting in the No. 9 spot, had a big hit, too. We hit today all through the lineup.
The coach said he thought a difference to the rebound from the season’s start came on the field after actually getting some practice days and playing time on an actual diamond.
“Defensively, we’ve gotten better,” he said. “We’re better than we were in the first three games – not where we need to be – but better. “
The Bulldogs’ next test is set for Friday, when the team heads to Great Falls for non-conference games against Great Falls High and Great Falls Russell.
Butte High 18, Missoula Big Sky 17
Big Sky erupted for five runs in the top of the seventh inning to tie the Bulldogs at 17-all and force Butte High to bat in the bottom of the inning.
The Bulldogs enthusiastically obliged, facing power pitcher Makenna Hewitt, the Eagles’ only senior, who relieved freshman starter Liberty Rogers in the previous inning. The move made Hewitt vacate third base where she had been a defensive standout all game.
Butte High started the bottom of the seventh with Jaycee Burke reaching on an error by Hewitt’s replacement at third base, the first error of the game for Big Sky. Burke was erased on a fielder’s choice that let Skeel reach safely. Antonioli grounded to the left side where another error was committed. Two Butte High base runners were aboard. Hoagland was gifted an intentional walk to load the bases and set up a potential force play at any base. Corcoran then delivered her single to left field, bringing Dacelyn LaFond, Skeel’s courtesy runner, home with the winning run to end the game.
The two teams knocked each other around the whole first game. The Eagles took a 6-0 lead in their first at-bats with Hewitt smacking a two-run single and Rogers ripping a three-run homer. Butte High quickly got four of the runs back, three on Bolton’s big bomb.
The Bulldogs went ahead 7-6 with a three-run second. Corcoran singled in one, Hoagland scored on a double steal for another, and MacKenzie Tutty doubled to center field to tally Corcoran with the third.
Big Sky retook the lead with two runs in the third as Brooke Schaffer doubled to knock in Hewitt, then ran home on a base hit by Katie Nei. The Eagles increased their advantage to 12-7 in the fifth frame. Key hits included a two-run single by Avarie McPhillips and a run-scoring single by Grace Hood.
Butte High rallied back with four runs in its half of the fifth. Hoagland, Corcoran and Bolton belted run-scoring singles and Ferriter drove in one with a double through the left-field corner.
The Bulldogs exploded for six runs in the sixth to seemingly take control for good. Three scored on a Corcoran double in front of back-to-back homers by Ferriter and Bolton.
The Eagles revealed they still had a pulse, tying the score in the top of the seventh. Jordan Whitmire scored on a base hit by Hood before Hewitt hammered a three-run homer over the left-field fence. Schaffer was hit by a pitch with one out. She stole second as Nei struck out, then scored the tying run on a controversial infield hit Rogers beat out with the ruling drawing unsuccessful argument from Stosich.
Skeel, on in relief, retired Kaysen Brown on a groundout, setting the scene for Corcoran’s walkoff hit in the bottom of the inning.
Msla Big Sky 602 040 5 — 17 14 2
Butte High 430 046 1 — 18 20 4
One out when winning run scored.
Liberty Rogers, Makennah Hewitt (6) and Grace Hood. Rian Ferriter, Madison Skeel (5) and Jordyn Bolton. W – Skeel. L – Hewitt.
MISSOULA BIG SKY — Jordan Whitmire 0-3, Avarie McPhillips 2-4, Grace Hood 2-4, Makennah Hewitt 3-5, Logan Baack 0-4, Brooke Schaffer 2-4, Katie Nei 3-4, Liberty Rogers 2-5, Syerra Peterson 0-0, Breanna Hewitt 0-0, Kaysen Brown 0-4.
BUTTE HIGH — Kotie Hoagland 4-4, Aubree Corcoran 4-6, Rian Ferriter 3-5, Jordyn Bolton 3-4, MacKenzie Tutty 2-3, Dylan Duffy 1-5, Jaycee Burke 0-5, Madison Skeel 2-5, Dacelyn LaFond 0-0, Mia Antonioli 1-3, Joscelyn Cleveland 0-0.
Extra-base hits – 2B – Schaffer, Tutty, Bolton, Skeel, Ferriter. HR – Rogers, M. Hewitt, Bolton 2, Ferriter.
Runs batted in – Big Sky (17) — M. Hewitt 5, Rogers 4, McPhillips 2, Hood 2, Nei 2, Baack 1, Schaffer 1. Butte High (14) — Corcoran 5, Bolton 4, Ferriter 3, Tutty 2, Duffy 1.
Butte High 17, Missoula Big Sky 2 (5 innings)
Butte High never trailed in what was fast-becoming a nightcap. The Bulldogs went ahead 3-0 as Corcoran beat out an infield hit and Ferriter doubled to left field to set up a run-scoring groundout by Bolton before Ferriter and Tutty raced home on wild pitches.
Big Sky put two runs on the board in its half of the first as the Bulldogs committed three errors in the frame. The two unearned runs were the only ones allowed by Ferriter, who was spelled by Godbout in the last inning. The Eagles were held to three hits.
Ferriter singled in a run in the second inning, and doubles by Antonioli, Corcoran and Ferriter in the third scored four of five runs in the inning.
The Bulldogs tacked on seven more runs in the fourth inning for a 16-2 bulge. Tutty and Duffy banged out consecutive doubles and Burke walked before Skeel singled two runs home. Corcoran crunched a bases-loaded double to center field for three more runs and scored an out later on a Bolton groundout.
Butte High’s last run, in the top of the fifth, came on a Hoagland double to left after pinch hitter Cami Kautzman singled to center and Antonioli was hit by a pitch.
Big Sky’s first hit of the game was a harmless single by Hood in the third. Its only other two were in the bottom of the fifth when Presley Shoup singled with one out and Lenni Santiago followed with a base hit to left. Both runners moved up a bag on a wild pitch before Godbout settled and coaxed a popup and a groundout to end the game on the mercy rule.
Big Sky batted in the home half of the second game’s innings because the doubleheader will be the only regular-season meeting between the two teams.
Butte High 315 71x x —17 15 3
Msla Big Sky 200 00x x — 2 3 3
Rian Ferriter, Bryn Godbout (5) and Jordyn Bolton. Makennah Hewitt and Grace Hood. W – Ferriter. L – M. Hewitt.
BUTTE HIGH (2-3, 2-0) — Kodie Hoagland 2-4, Aubree Corcoran 3-5, Rian Ferriter 3-4, Dacelyn LaFond 0-0, Bryn Godbout 0-0, Jordyn Bolton 0-4, MacKenzie Tutty 2-3, Dylan Duffy 1-3, Jaycee Burke 1-1, Kamber Leary 0-1, Madison Skeel 1-3, Cami Kautzman 1-1, Mia Antonioli 1-3, Joscelyn Cleveland 0-0.
MISSOULA BIG SKY (1-7, 1-3) — Jordan Whitmire 0-2, Lenni Santiago 1-1, Avarie McPhillips 0-3, Grace Hood 1-3, Makennah Hewitt 0-2, Logan Braack 0-2, Brooke Schaffer 0-2, Katie Nei 0-2, Liberty Rogers 0-1, Caitlyn Porch 0-0, Syerra Peterson 0-1, Kaysen Brown 0-1, Presly Shoup 0-1.
Extra-base hits – 2B – Ferriter 2, Antonioli, Corcoran 2, Tutty, Duffy, Hoagland.
Runs batted in – Big Sky 1 (Hewitt). Butte High 15 (Corcoran 5, Skeel 3, Ferriter 2, Bolton 2, Hoagland 1, Duffy 1, Antonioli 1).