VERNAL, Utah — Two days into offseason workouts, brand-new Butte Miners coach Jim LeProwse had a message for his new team.
“I said this team has every tool that we need to win a state championship,” LeProwse said. “They all looked at me like, ‘Really?’ I said, ‘Yes.’”
LeProwse was right and then some. Nine days after the Butte Miners won their first state title since 1953, the Miners won the Northwest Class A Regional championship.
Butte blanked the Minico, Idaho Storm 4-0 in the championship game Tuesday afternoon at Uintah High School. (Boxscore)
The win was Butte’s 15th straight, and that is not even the Miners’ longest winning streak of the season. After starting 0-4, the Miners finished the season at 45-9. That includes a 20-game winning streak that took up the entire month of June.
More importantly, the Miners never lost in August, going 5-0 at the Regional tournament. Minico would have had to beat the Miners twice to win the title.
The Miners were not about to let that happen.
“We talked about it last night, about the want,” LeProwse said. “More than anything, you’ve got to want it. Boy, did they want it.”
Trey Hansen pitched six and two thirds innings, working in and out of trouble for the victory. He struck out three, walked five and scattered four hits.
“Trey decided that he wanted to walk the 8 and 9 hitter like three times. At least twice,” LeProwse said with a laugh. “We made some great defensive plays to get out of stuff. He did a great job keeping their good hitters off balance. He just shut them down.”
Hansen was also starter and winner in the July 31 state championship game.
Kenley Leary, who was named the MVP of the State and Regional tournament, got the Miner offense going early. He led off the top of the first inning with a double and scored on a two-out single by Aidan Lee.
Butte made it 4-0 with three runs in the top of the fourth. Lee walked and scored on a Zach Tierney single. Tierney and Cayde Stajcar scored on errors.
Hansen walked a batter, hit another and gave up a single before Eric “Chooch” Hart came in with two out.
After starting the batter with three straight balls, Hart got Dax Sayer to fly out to left fielder Egan Lester.
Sayer gave the ball a ride, but LeProwse said his worries were subsided when one of his players yelled, “We got a guy out there.”
“That was the kid who hit a home run off Kenley the other night, too,” LeProwse said.
With the ball safely in Lester’s glove, the Miners celebrated with a dog pile in the infield. First, Hart did a somersault and Leary did some flips.
“It is really cool,” LeProwse said of the Miners completing the Regional crown. “It’s pretty exciting for baseball in Butte.”
Leary also singled, accounting for two of Butte’s seven hits. Lester, Lee, Tierney, Rye Doherty and Evan Starr singled. Lee and Stajcar walked.
Sean Ossello also played in the title game for the Miners. Other team members are Quinn Cox, Kevin Donaldson, Anthony Knott, Ethan “Easy” Cunningham, George Riojas, Gavin Trudgeon, Tyler Duffy and Derek Dunmire.
LeProwse’s top assistant is Luke Stajcar. Other assistants are Dyllan “Kruck” Lane, Reece Cox, Kian O’Neill and Dale Kingery.
The 2022 Miners were clearly a talented bunch. More than that, LeProwse said they were a tight-knit team.
“They believed in it, they did what we asked them to do and they just competed day in and day out,” LeProwse said. “They’re just blue-collar hard-working kids, and it is all about team. It is not about individuals.
“I’ve never found a group that is so unselfish. Even the guys who don’t play as much, they’re into the game just as much, too.”