By Bruce Sayler
Butte flexed a lot of muscle in a 12-2 victory over Lockwood/Shepherd Friday night.
Bryson Hibbert and Calvin Cunningham performed much of the heavy lifting with three runs batted in apiece while Kodye Kjersten kept the Billings-area state contenders mostly chilled in the batter’s box.
The game was the second first-rounder in the state Little League Junior Division boys’ baseball tournament taking place through Sunday on Miners Field at 3 Legends Stadium in Copper Mountain Sports Park.
The Butte All-Stars earned a 5 p.m. Saturday winners’ bracket set-to with Laurel. The winner will advance to Sunday’s 10 a.m. game. Laurel edged Dillon 9-6 with a three-run surge in the top of the seventh inning to win Friday’s other game.
Three games are on tap for Saturday in the tournament for ballplayers of ages 13-14. A 2 p.m. loser-out will match Dillon against Lockwood/Shepherd. After Butte and Laurel meet at 5, the winner of the 2 p.m. game will play the Butte-Laurel loser in an 8 p.m. loser-out contest.
Butte jumped on Lockwood/Shepherd early with a four-run first inning on the way to ending the tilt on the 10-run difference rule in the sixth inning. After Kjersten set down Lockwood/Shepherd in order in the top of the first on three groundouts, the Butte club took its first swings.
Shortstop Treigh Hollow reached on an infield hit to lead off the team. Playing under the lights, catcher Tegan Duffy then was safe when Lockwood/Shepherd fielders were unable to get under his sky-high popup. A fielder’s choice erased Duffy and put Kjersten on base. A throwing error let Hollow score before Hibbert clubbed a one-out, two-run triple into the left-center field alley. Hibbert then raced home on a wild pitch.
Lockwood/Shepherd got on the scoreboard with a run in the second frame. Gage Young beat out an infield hit, then scored from second on a single by Ryder Mikkelson.
Butte tacked on three runs in the third for a 7-1 advantage. Duffy stood on first base after his high popper to the infield dropped to the ground untouched. He stole second and got to third on Kjersten’s infield hit. Cunningham’s infield hit allowed Duffy to dash home. Hibbert then singled Kjersten home. A walk to Tucker Kissell reloaded the bases and Cunningham bolted home when a botched pickoff attempt at first base.
Owen Schlotter scored in the fourth inning for Lakewood/Shepherd’s second run. He drew a one-out walk, took second on a walk and ran home on an errant throw.
Butte clinched the win with four runs in the fifth inning and one in the sixth. Hollow scored on a one-out error after working a walk in the fifth. Cunningham’s seeing-eye single eluded a bevy of gloves as it danced up the middle and out of harm. Kjersten, who had gotten base on the error, tallied on the Cunningham snaking grounder. The bags filled with Hibbert getting a walk and Kissell being hit by a pitch. Noah Powers’ infield hit pushed Cunningham home and then a sacrifice fly by Camden Ingraham to right field delivered Hibbert. Butte led 11-2.
Hugh O’Brien walked and Sawyer Casey got plunked by a pitch to set up the final run, in the bottom of the sixth inning. A double steal put the runners in scoring position with nobody out. Miles Choquette hit a bouncer to the right side. Tatum Pulley gloved it and fired home, but O’Brien had beaten the throw. The game was over.
Kjersten struck out three and walked none in his three-inning stint on the mound. He gave up three hits and one run. Noah Powers finished on the hill. He produced eight strikeouts and allowed six walks. His best inning was the sixth when he struck out the side, three-up and three-down.
Duffy, Cunningham and Hibbert each had two hits. Hibbert’s triple and David Honer’s double were the team’s only extra-base hits.
Lockwood/Shepherd’s three hits were singles by Young, Mikkelson and Austin Piercy.
Shepherd/Lockwood 010 100 x — 2 3 5
Butte 403 041 x – 12 13 2
Jarvis Werk, Austin Piercy (5), Ryder Mikkelson (6) and Gage Young. Kodye Kjersten, Noah Powers (4) and Tegan Duffy. W – Kjersten. L – Werk. S – Powers.
SHEPHERD/LOCKWOOD – Owen Wagner 0-1, Jarvis Werk 0-1, Phillip Bryant 0-1, Gage Young 1-1, Chance Mertz 0-2, Cameron Nave 0-2, Ryder Mikkelson 1-2, Carter Kramer 0-2, Austin Piercy 1-2, Tatum Pulley 0-2, James Gokey 0-1, Owen Schlotter 0-0.
BUTTE – Treigh Hollow 1-2, Tegan Duffy 2-3, Kodye Kjersted 1-2, Calvin Cunningham 2-3, Bryson Hibbert 2-2, Tucker Kissell 1-1, Noah Powers 1-2, Camden Ingraham 0-2, David Honer 1-3, Hugh O’Brien 1-2, Sawyer Casey 1-2, Miles Choquette 0-3.
Extra-base hits – 2B – Honer. 3B – Hibbert.
Runs batted in – Lockwood/Shepherd 1 (Mikkelson), Butte 9 (Cunningham 3, Hibbert 3, Powers 1, Ingraham 1, Choquette 1).