By Bruce Sayler
The return of winter to Butte’s 3 Legends Stadium Tuesday did not provide the only chill that cut through East Helena.
The Bulldogs beat the Vigilantes 19-4 in a Class AA high school baseball game that ended in the fourth inning on the 15-run difference rule. The lopsided result was delayed an hour by wind, snow, hail and rain that pulled an arctic atmosphere across the field.
Umpires sent the players off the diamond for a 61-minute interruption once conditions and grounds became too severely weather-affected to be playable in the first inning.
The Bulldogs scored their 19 runs while touching East Helena pitching for only six hits. All were singles. However, the Vigilantes walked Butte High batters 13 times and plunked them three times. The Bulldogs stole 11 bases. East Helena committed five errors. Wild pitches and passed balls added to their woes.
“It’s nice when you can get anybody in some playing time,” Butte High head coach Jim LeProwse said. “Aidan (Cuchine) pitched well, and (Tyler) Duffy did a nice job coming in and follow that up.
“It’s tough to stay focused when you have a delay like that. But, our guys came back out and got on base and we moved them around to score.”
The win came on the heels of a 12-10 loss to state leader Belgrade the night before on the same field.
LeProwse said he liked the bounceback by his team.
“We did what we should have,” he said. “We stole a lot of bases that gave us a lot of opportunities to score runs. We still have to clean up some defensive things. But, overall, I’m pretty happy with how we played.”
Cuchine gave up only three hits before giving way to Duffy, who shut the door with hitless ball.
East Helena had a 1-0 lead after half an inning. Leadoff batter Kai Richey reached on a throwing error, stole a base, grabbed third on a wild pitch and came home on a sacrifice fly by Jacob Spencer.
The Bulldogs responed with eight runs in the bottom of the first. Sean Ossello and Kevin Donaldson were both hit by pitches to start the Butte High first, and Ossello stole two bases before racing home on a wild pitch to tie the score.
Donaldson was on third base and Anthony Knott was at the plate when the umpires deemed the downpour-turned-blizzard unplayable for the moment and cleared the diamond.
An hour later, Knott reached on a fielder’s choice as Donaldson beat the throw to second base off Knott’s grounder. An errant throw let Donaldson score the go-ahead run. Cayde Stajcar walked. Zach Tierney popped out, but not before Knott sped home on a wild pitch. Stajcar followed him in the same manner shortly thereafter. Ethan Cunningham walked and Caden McGillan got to first base on a dropped third strike. Cunningham had scored on another wild pitch.
Derek Dunmire then laced the first hit of the game, a bouncer deep in the hole he beat out for an infield single. It drove in McGillan. Dunmire went to third base on an errant pickoff and a passed ball. Mason Armstrong drew a base on balls and Ossello was again hit by a pitch and the bases were loaded. A sacrifice fly to center field by Donaldson brought Dunmire home before Knott was retired on a flyball to end the inning.
The Vigilantes had the bases loaded with one out in the top of the second inning, but the runners were stranded as Cuchine got a strikeout and groundball out to stifle the threat.
The Bulldogs were even more lethal in the second than in the first inning. They scored nine runs for a 17-1 command. Stajcar and Tierney hit back-to-back singles and Stajcar scored on the Tierney hit. Tocher Lee drew a walk. An out later, Dunmire reached on an error and Tierney and Lee both scored. Armstrong’s infield single chased Dunmire home. Ossello walked and Donaldson was aboard via a fielder’s choice to fill the bags. Armstrong ran home on a wild pitch and Knott walked to repack the sacks. Stajcar swatted a two-run single to left, Knott sprinted home on a wild pitch and Tierney sizzled a single up the middle to plate Stajcar. Lee then smashed a line drive that Richey snared at shortstop and fired to first baseman Taylor Kopp, catching a runner off base for a double play to end the inning.
East Helena came back in the third inning for three runs. Killian Snarr started the uprising with a single and took second on an error. Spencer singled. Snarr then dashed in on a wild pitch and Kopp worked a base on balls. A dropped pickoff throw let Spencer score and then Kopp got home on a wild pitch. A strikeout and two flyouts around a walk kept East Helena from adding any more runs in the frame.
Butte High was held scoreless in the third.
Duffy then set the Vigilantes down in order in the fourth on a strikeout, flyout and another strikeout. A diving catch by Gavin Trudgeon in right field was key to only three Vigilantes coming to the plate in the inning.
The Bulldogs wrapped it up with two runs in the last of the fourth inning. Trudgeon led it off with a walk and then stole second and third bases. Jimmy Blow drew a walk and stole second base. Trudgeon scored on a wild pitch. Cuchine walked. After a popup, Alex Jorgensen hit a grounder down the first baseline. Kopp fielded it, but not before Blow burned down the third baseline with the final run.
Butte High raised its record to 11-2 with the win and is to be home on Friday against Dillon in a 5 p.m. game at 3 Legends Stadium. East Helena is now 4-11 and scheduled to play at Belgrade on Friday.
East Helena 103 0xx x — 4 3 5
Butte High 890 2xx x – 19 6 4
Colby Weaver, Killian Snarr (1), Tucker Petty (3) and Kelton Simonson, Eli Fox (1). Aidan Cuchine, Tyler Duffy (3) and Mason Armstrong. W – Cuchine. L – Weaver.
EAST HELENA (4-11) – Kai Richey 0-3, Killian Snarr 1-3, Colter Charlesworth 0-0, Jacob Spencer 1-1, Taylor Kopp 0-1, Cole Richmond 0-2, Colby Weaver 0-0, Wyatt Carroll 0-0, Tucker Petty 1-2, Colter DeYoung 0-1, Kelton Simonson 0-0, Eli Fox 0-2.
BUTTE HIGH (11-2) – Sean Ossello 0-0, Kevin Donaldson 0-1, Trey Hansen 0-1, Anthony Knott 0-2, Gavin Trudgeon 0-0, Cayde Stajcar 2-2, Jimmy Blow 0-0, Zach Tierney 2-3, Aidan Cuchine 0-0, Ethan Cunningham 0-0, Tocher Lee 0-2, Caden McGillan 0-2, Alex Jorgensen 0-1, Derek Dunmire 1-2, Mason Armstrong 1-2.
Extra-base hits – none.
Runs batted in – East Helena 1 (Spencer), Butte 9 (Stajcar 2, Tierney 2, Donaldson 1, Knott 1, Jorgensen 1, Dunmire 1, Armstrong 1.