Miners roll past Bucs on ‘Fun Fact Night’

By Bill Foley

Here’s a fun fact: The Butte Miners are good at baseball.

The Miners proved that by putting a hurting on the Bitterroot Bucs Friday night on Miners Field at 3 Legends Stadium, sweeping a non-conference twin bill in convincing fashion.

Butte overcame a 3-0 deficit for a 14-3 win in the opener. The Miners kept things rolling with a 12-run first inning on their way to a 15-4 win in the nightcap.

Both games were called after five innings by the 10-run rule.

Throughout the game, public address announcer Jim O’Neill read made up fun facts about Butte players as the Miners celebrated “Fun Facts Night.”

One fact that was not complete fiction is that the Miners are playing well at the right time. The team moved to 24-14 overall with the sweep. Butte will take a 20-6 record into Saturday’s 1 p.m. season-ending doubleheader with Livingston on Miners Field.

“We’ve played in (Class) A three years as the Miners, and we haven’t come close to that,” Butte coach Jeff LeProwse said of the conference record. “This is the best team we’ve had.”

(Story continues below photo gallery)

The Bucs, who swept the Miners July 12 in Florence, would certainly attest to that before they began their ling bus ride home.

Butte outhit the Bucs 22-7 over the 10 innings of the sweep. Butte pounded six extra-base hits, including another home run from young slugger Zach Tierney.

“We hit the s— out of the ball tonight,” LeProwse said. “Obviously, we didn’t see their best arms, but we still hit the ball really well.”

The Miners, who got a few reinforcements from the Muckers for the stretch run, also got a pair of injured players back in Ryan Burt and Coyt Stajcar.

Burt, who missed a chunk of time with a knee injury, started the second game and struck out five the six batters he faced in two perfect innings of work.

“It was awesome,” LeProwse said. “He struck out five out of six. If we can get that kind of production out of him …”

The return of Burt gives the Miners another strong arm behind starters Ryan Wahl, Rylan Richards, Kenley Leary and Reece Cox as they head to tournament time. Butte will open the district tournament Thursday, most likely against Livingston, in Three Forks.

The Miners have the No. 2 seed locked up for the tournament that will send two teams to Lewistown the following week for the Class A State tournament.

Stajcar, who was out with a neck and head injury, started in center field and batted leadoff in Game 2. He registered a hit, two walks and two runs.

“I’m back and better than ever,” Stajcar proclaimed.

Butte will look for wins No. 25 and 26 in Saturday’s matinee twin bill. LeProwse will send Wahl and Richards to the bump.

Game 1
Miners 14, Bucs 3
The night started off like it would belong to the Bucs.

Bitterroot took advantage of a costly error and put up three runs in the top of the first inning.

Unfortunately for the visitors, the home team scored 29 times before a member of the Bucs touched the plate again.

The Miners scored three runs in each of the first three innings before putting up a five spot in the fourth.

That was more than enough support for Cox, who recovered from the rough first inning to go the distance in the win. He scattered five hits, struck out two and walked one.

Catcher Eyston Lakkala went 3 for 3 with two RBIs and a run scored from the No. 9 hole.

Leary hit a deep shot to right-center and raced around for a stand-up triple. Egan Lester and Wahl each hit a double. Lester drove in three runs, while Wahl joined Richards with two.

Richards, Aidan Lee, Eric Hart and Tierney also singled for Butte.

Richards also walked twice and scored three runs.

Stajcar was hit by a pitch and scored on his return to action. Hunter Salcido scored a run as a pinch runner.

Jesse Sage hit two singles to lead the Bucs. Jake Scully, Andrew Scully and Brenan Schneits hit one.

Game 2
Miners 15, Bucs 4
The nightcap was pretty much over before it started.

Stajcar, Wahl and Tierney each scored twice in Butte’s 12-run first inning. The last two runs came on Tierney’s blast over the wall in left field.

The home run was the seventh of the season for Tierney. Five of those came while playing for the younger Muckers squad.

Things were going so good for the Miners that their No. 8 hitter had the best hitting line. Ethan Edwards continued his recent hot streak by going 3 for 3 with a double and four RBIs.

Tierney finished with three RBIs, and Wahl, who hit a double and single, knocked in two.

Salcido joined Stajcar with a singled.

Rye Doherty, O’Neill, Hart and Evan Starr scored in the win.

Leary, Lakkala and Doherty pitched for the Miners, who kept all of their Game 2 pitchers under 30 pitchers.

Butte led 15-0 before the Bucs got on the board with a Johnny Lineback home run to left in the fourth. Bitterroot added three runs in the fifth before Doherty sent everyone home with a called strike out.