The Butte Miners’ quest to win the South A will have to wait a couple of days.
Butte split a key conference doubleheader with the Belgrade Bandits Friday night on Miners Field at 3 Legends Stadium. Butte won the opener 2-1 in eight innings, but Belgrade took the nightcap 12-3.
A sweep would have given the Miners the regular-season crown and the top seed heading into Thursday’s South A District tournament in Butte. The Miners (30-9 overall, 15-1 conference) can win the league title with a win in one of two games against the Helena Reps Sunday in Helena.
Butte Miners 2, Belgrade Bandits 1 (Boxscore)
Quinn Cox was the hero of the opener.
The Miners catcher singled in Cayde Stajcar with the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Stajcar bunted for a single to lead off the inning. He scored from third on the one-out hit.
Cox also singled to score Aidan Lee with the tying run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Ethan “Easy” Cunningham struck out six and walked two in six innings. Kenley Leary fanned two in one inning of relief to get the win.
Lee joyed Cox with two hits in the win. Leary and Zach Tierney joined Stajcar with one single.
Lane Neill hit a double and two singles to lead the Bandigs. Aidan Kulbeck hit two singles.
Belgrade Bandits 12, Butte Miners 3 (Boxscore)
The Bandits gained control of the nightcap with seven innings in the top of the second.
Neill doubled and drove in three runs. Gavin Waters doubled, and Kash Fike and Wyatt Russell each hit two singles to lead the Bandit offense. Neill also pitched the distance, fanning seven, for the win.
Rye Doherty hit two doubles, and Leary doubled and singled to lead Butte. Eric “Chooch” Hart and Evan Star each hit a pair of singles. Egan Lester and Anthony Knott also picked up hits.
George Riojas struck out 10 batters in five and a third innings of relief.