Butte moundmen stifle Helena in Miners’ sweep

By Bruce Sayler
The Butte Miners played like champions Sunday.
The reigning American Legion Baseball Southern A District, Montana/Alberta State A and the Western A Regional champion Miners confidently defeated a worthy opponent, the Helena Reps, in both ends of a doubleheader and likely all facets of the game. The scores were 4-1 and 6-3 on Miners Field at 3 Legends Stadium within the confines of Copper Mountain Sports Park.
The wins ran the Butte record to 25-7 for the season, including an 11-1 Southern A Conference mark.
“Absolutely, that was the most confident I’ve seen our guys all year,” assistant coach Luke Stajcar said. “They played very good. The pitchers did a great job of pitching to contact and when the defense does well making the routine plays, then good things will happen.”
Stajcar directed the club in the second game after head coach Jim LeProwse left the ballpark between games because of feeling ill, Stajcar said. No more about LeProwse’s status was known Sunday night.
Pitchers Gavin Trudgeon and Derek Dunmire matched gems. The Reps found them stingy.
Trudgeon struck out six batters and walked only two in a four-hitter that opened the twin bill. Dunmire followed with a three-hitter in the second game. Both tossed complete games.
“The batters executed, too,” Luke Stajcar said, “like when Mason (Armstrong) bunted there at the end and Kenley (Leary) got a big two-out hit for an insurance run. When our defense is good, we’re better offensively, too, and it showed.
“That was the most complete two games this team has played all season. Now, we have to try to keep it rolling coming toward the district tournament.”
The Miners have six more regular-season games scheduled this week. They are to go to Missoula on Monday for a 6 p.m. non-conference doubleheader against Missoula’s Class AA Mavericks club. On Tuesday, the Butte team is to close its home slate with a 6 p.m. conference twin bill against the Bozeman Bucks Class A squad for Senior Night. Sunday, the regular season ends for the Miners with a league doubleheader in Anaconda.
The district tourney is to begin July 20 in Three Forks. The State Class A meet is to start July 26 in Laurel and this year’s Western Regional is to be played later in Havre.
“The Missoula games will be good for us to get some guys some innings on the mound,” Luke Stajcar said. “It’ll be good because of what happened today when we had two proficient pitchers and nobody else got to pitch.
“We have four very important conference games coming up and two non-conference games and we can use four different guys starting on the mound against them.”
Miners 4, Reps 1
Butte never trailed in the opener. Trudgeon set the Reps down in order to begin the first inning then saw his teammates give him a 1-0 lead in the bottom half. Right fielder Kevin Donaldson stroked a one-out double into the left-center gap and scored an out later when shortstop Cayde Stajcar also smacked a two-bagger into the same alley.
The score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth inning when the Miners gave Trudgeon some cushion. Third baseman Rye Doherty led off with a single up the middle that barely missed pitcher Tyler Beaver’s head. Butte catcher Quinn Cox worked a walk and then second baseman Ethan Cunningham was safe at first on a bad throw. The error let Doherty score and gave an extra base to both Cox and Cunningham. Butte center fielder Sean Ossello brought Cox home an out later with a sacrifice fly lofted to center field. Donaldson then beat out an infield hit while Cunningham steamed home.
The Reps broke up the shutout with a run in the top of the sixth. Left fielder Connor Devine drew a leadoff walk and scored on a double to deep center field by first baseman Matt Goleman. Goleman was thrown out trying to steal third base before Trudgeon retired the Reps on a strikeout and an infield popup.
The 4-1 Miners lead held to the end, Trudgeon taking care of the Helena team on three-up and three-down in the seventh on a lineout, strikeout and infield popup.
Cunningham highlighted the defense with two leaping snares of line drives at second base to deny Helena hits.
Helena 000 001 0 – 1 4 1
Butte 100 030 x – 4 6 2
Tyler Beaver and Tizer Lindgren. Gavin Trudgeon and Quinn Cox. W – Trudgeon. L – Beaver.
HELENA – Walker DesRosier 1-3, J.R. Huschka 0-3, Connor Devine 0-2, Matt Goleman 1-3, Jack Taylor 1-3, Eli Peterson 0-2, Finn Doran 0-3, Tizer Lindgren 0-3, Ryker Roman 1-3.
BUTTE – Sean Ossello 0-1, Kevin Donaldson 2-3, Anthony Knott 0-3, Cayde Stajcar 1-3, Zach Tierney 0-3, Rye Doherty 2-3, Quinn Cox 0-2, Ethan Cunningham 1-2, Kenley Leary 0-2.
Extra-base hits – 2B – Goleman, Donaldson, Stajcar.
Runs batted in – Helena 1 (Goleman), Butte 3 (Ossello 1, Donaldson 1, Stajcar 1).
Miners 6, Reps 3
Butte was in some minor trouble early in the contest and trailed Helena 2-0 until the third inning.
The Reps broke to a 2-0 lead in the first frame as shortstop Walker DesRosier was hit by the first pitch of the game to start. Left fielder Connor Devine whacked a double an out later to drive in DesRosier. Devine scored on a two-out wild pitch before Dunmire struck out first baseman Hayden Langemo to get out of the inning.
Butte got it back and then some with four runs scored in the bottom of the fourth inning. First baseman Kenley Leary banged a one-out double off the left-field wall. Center fielder Sean Ossello walked and right fielder Kevin Donaldson beat out an infield hit to load the bases. Left fielder Anthony Knott then blooped a base hit into short left-center to score Leary. The bags were still full when shortstop Cayde Stajcar delivered a go-ahead two-run single to left-center. Knott was caught for an out on the basepaths while Stajcar grabbed second base. He advanced to third on a wild pitch. Designated hitter Zach Tierney lifted a high fly ball to short right field. The Reps fielder lost it in the sun and the ball fell to earth for a double while Stajcar crossed homeplate.
Butte scored a run without a hit in the fourth for a 5-2 advantage. Second baseman Ethan Cunningham was safe on a throwing error that got him to second base with one out. He scooted to third on a wild pitch, and sped home when Leary grounded out.
Helena got the run back in the fifth and threatened to put together a big inning. Designated hitter Cole Flugge led off with a single but was erased at second base on a fielder’s choice hit into by center fielder Kai Richey. Second baseman Cohen Sassano drew a walk and DesRosier was safe on a fielder’s choice to pack the sacks with one out. Third baseman Nathan Dupler brought in Richey with a sacrifice fly to left fielder Knott. Then, Devine popped out to Stajcar to end the threat.
Butte tacked on the last run in the sixth inning. Doherty smashed a leadoff single to center field and was moved to second on the Armstrong bunt coach Stajcar mentioned. After a flyout, Leary ripped a single to center field to knock in Doherty.
Dunmire sent the Reps home with three straight outs in the top of the seventh. Two were on flyballs to Knott and the third on a bouncer to Doherty.
Dunmire’s best inning was the third when he needed only four pitches to put the Reps away with a popup and two groundouts. Tizer Lindgren caught both ends of the doubleheader for Helena with temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s.
The play of the game was also in the third when Butte was batting. A small boy playing outside the right side of the field with friends stabbed a smoked foul line drive, that had cleared the fence, with a lunge and dive through the air. The large crowd applauded approval.
Helena 200 010 0 – 3 3 1
Butte 004 101 x – 6 9 1
J.R. Huschka and Tizer Lindgren. Derek Dunmire and Mason Armstrong. W – Dunmire. L – Huschka.
HELENA – Walker DesRosier 0-3, Nathan Dupler 0-3, Connor Devine 1-3, Matt Goleman 0-2, Hayden Langemo 0-3, Tizer Lindgren 1-3, Cole Flugge 1-3, Kai Richey 0-3, Cohen Sassano 0-2.
BUTTE – Sean Ossello 0-3, Kevin Donaldson 1-3, Anthony Knott 2-3, Cayde Stajcar 2-3, Zach Tierney 1-3, Rye Doherty 1-3, Mason Armstrong 0-2, Ethan Cunningham 0-3, Kenley Leary 2-3, Tocher Lee 0-0, Quinn Cox 0-0.
Extra-base hits – 2B – Devine, Stajcar, Leary, Tierney, Knott.
Runs batted in – Helena 2 (Dupler 1, Devine 1), Butte 6 (Stajcar 2, Leary 2, Knott 1, Tierney 1).