Stajcar slams as Bulldogs sweep two from Maroons

By Bruce Sayler

Neither history or Butte High was kind to Butte Central baseball Tuesday at 3 Legends Stadium, housing Miners Field in the Copper Mountain Youth and Sports Park.
The two in-city rivals held their first, very first, baseball game with each other in and old sport just recently sanctioned by the Montana High School Association for interscholastic competition.
Bigger and way more experienced Butte High whipped the young, thin-rostered Maroons 17-2 and 26-1 in a doubleheader that saw neither game go the distance because of run-difference rules. A good crowd was on hand and the weather was like it was ordered from a catalog – temperatures in the low 70s, but with a pretty steady breeze blowing one way or the other.
“They’re young and they do have some pretty good players,” Butte High head coach Jim LeProwse assessed his opposition. “The Hassler kid did a great job for them. He was deceptive and had a good curveball.
“The last game was a close game for a while. But the last inning, we hit everything.”
Cayde Stajcar did. The freshman shortstop for the Butte High team batted 5-for-9 over the two games with six runs batted in – five in the second game, four of them on a grand slam that cleared the left-field fence about 325 feet away from homeplate.
“Youth and experience,” Butte Central head coach Richie O’Brien said after the Maroons’ record was stretched to 0-9 on a schedule chock full of baseball veterans and know-how. “Those are killing us, right now. We need to clean a few things up and our young kids have to keep their heads in it. We’re very freshman-heavy.”
Baseball joined the MHSA agenda at a good time for Butte High. The Bulldogs are full of experience from last year’s Butte Miners team that won the district, state and regional championships in American Legion Class A baseball. LeProwse coached that team, too, so ranks as one of the more important members of both programs.
At least a dozen Bulldogs were on that championship Miners team, though Kevin Donaldson didn’t play on Tuesday due to an injury. The Maroons sported two players from the Legion champions. O’Brien said he’d like to see more develop, encouraging his younger players especially to play American Legion baseball.
“Who better to learn from than the guy in the other dugout?” O’Brien asked, nodding toward LeProwse.
Five freshmen and an eighth-grader started for BC in at least one of Tuesday’s games. Another, center fielder and leadoff hitter Marquis Abad, was lost for the rest of the season earlier this week after breaking an ankle playing playground basketball, O’Brien said. The eighth-grader in the lineup was O’Brien’s son, Gunnar, who played above his years in stints at catcher, third base and second base.
The young Maroons learned hard lessons from a Butte High team that has lost just once this year.
“Our pitchers did nice jobs,” LeProwse said after three Bulldogs limited BC to three total hits, including a two-hitter Gavin Trudgeon tossed in Game 2. “Gavin did a nice job and, in the first game, Trey (Hansen) did, too. They kept the scores down.”
Both teams will be in action on Thursday with Butte High home against Columbus at 5 p.m., and Butte Central playing at undefeated Belgrade. Lone Peak was to play host to Butte High Thursday, but wet grounds are preventing play at the Big Sky Resort gateway community, according to reports. Columbus was to play the Bulldogs on Friday, but administrators moved the game to Thursday when Lone Peak canceled. Stormy weather is expected Friday, according to forecasts.
First Game
The Bulldogs jumped on BC for six runs in the bottom of the first innings and were not challenged the rest of the game. Sean Ossello doubled down the left-field line to start the at-bats for Butte High after Hansen set the Maroons down one-two-three in the top of the inning. Stajcar reached on the first of three BC errors in the inning and Ossello scored the first run of the Butte High-Butte Central baseball rivalry. Anthony Knott was safe on an infield hit that coupled with an error to send Stajcar home. Zach Tierney walked, then a wild pitch let Knott score and Tierney reach third. Zach O’Connell reached on an infield error. Ethan Cunningham dropped a bloop double into short right field and Tierney came home. Alex Jorgensen lifted a sacrifice fly to center field that scored O’Connell. Derek Dunmire singled to center to bat in Cunningham.
Butte Central scored its first run in the rivalry in the top of the second. The Maroons loaded the bases on a single by freshman Colt Hassler and walks to O’Brien and senior Konnor Pochervina. Jack Nagle hit into a fielder’s choice that put Hassler out at the plate, but a misthrow on the attempted double play let O’Brien cross the plate.
The Bulldogs erupted for their big inning, eight runs in the second, on seven hits and an error. Tierney, O’Connell and Stajcar all clubbed doubles in the inning, Dunmire belted a two-run single, Knott hit two run-scoring singles and Jorgensen punched one.
The Maroons got their last run of the game in third on a bases-loaded walk to O’Brien that forced home Jake Tauscher who had drawn a one-out walk. Hansen and reliever Caden McGillan held the Maroons hitless and off the scoreboard the rest of the game.
In the bottom of the fourth, Mason Armstrong tripled to knock in Stajcar who had singled with one out to plate Trudgeon who had led off with a base hit to right. Armstrong was able to speed home on a passed ball and the game ended on the 15-run rule.
Butte Central 011 0xx x — 2 2 4
Butte High 680 3xx x – 17 14 2
Eric Loos and Gunnar O’Brien. Trey Hansen, Caden McGillan (4) and Tyler Duffy. W – Hansen. L – Loos.
BUTTE CENTRAL – Jake Tauscher 0-2, Eric Loos 0-2, Rye Doherty 0-1, Colt Hassler 2-2, Gunnar O’Brien 0-0, Konnor Pochervina 0-1, Jack Nagle 0-1, Garrett Button 0-1, Kourt Donaldson 0-1, Kelton Keane 0-2.
BUTTE HIGH – Sean Ossello 1-3, Gavin Trudgeon 1-1, Cayde Stajcar 3-4, Anthony Knott 3-3, Mason Armstrong 1-1, Zach Tierney 1-2, Trey Hansen 0-2, Zach O’Connell 1-2, Ethan Cunningham 1-1, Aiden Cuchine 0-0, Alex Jorgensen 1-1, Jimmy Blow 0-0, Derek Dunmire 1-3, Quinn Cox 0-1, Tyler Duffy 0-0.
Extra-base hits – 2B – Ossello, Cunningham, Tierney, O’Connell, Stajcar. 3B – Armstrong.
Runs batted in – Butte Central 1 (O’Brien), Butte High 10 (Knott 2, Jorgensen 2, Stajcar 1, Armstrong 1, Tierney 1, O’Connell 1, Cunningham 1, Dunmire 1).

Butte High 26, Butte Central 1
The sixth inning was the story. Butte High sent 24 batters to the plate and they scored 18 runs on nine hits, two errors, six walks and four hit batsmen. The big blow, of course, was Stajcar’s blast – his second home run of the season, but his first in Butte.
The explosion took the Bulldogs from an 8-1 lead to their 26-1 command.
“I was stoked while running down the first baseline,” Stajcar said, saying he knew the shot was a goner when it left his bat. “It was a fastball, down and I swung full out.
“I’m definitely seeing the ball well. I had a good batting practice (Monday), driving the ball – sitting back and driving the ball.”
The young star said patience is the igniter to his fiery start on the season.
“It’s all about timing,” he said. “I’ve been able to sit on my back leg, waiting really well on the ball.”
The slam came on Stajcar’s second at-bat in the inning and off of O’Brien, the eighth-grader on in relief. Stajcar walked and scored on Anthony Knott’s single in his prior at-bat. Then, on his louder appearance, Jorgensen, Dunmire and Ossello set his table with a single and a pair of BC errors with two out and four of the big inning’s runs having crossed the plate.
“He is just super confident right now,” LeProwse said.
“Jorgensen and Armstrong had two RBIs each in the inning, and Knott, Duffy, Karsen McEwen and Blow had run-scoring hits.
LeProwse was holding baserunners up, making them go station to station with each ensuing hit, walk, error or hit by pitch.
“That Hassler kid did a great job,” LeProwse said about the Maroons’ starting pitcher, who used a variety of slicing and dipping offspeed pitches to baffle Butte High hitters for a bit. “He was deceptive and had a good curveball. It was a close game for a while.
“I got everybody we have into the game. I had nobody to sub in for Stajcar when he came up again (third at-bat of the inning). We didn’t use Kevin Donaldson, usually a starter, because he is injured.”
LeProwse did get a player back, kind of, on Tuesday. Quinn Cox is working his way back after recovering from ACL surgery and LeProwse said the player is limited to an at-bat per game.
“Duffy is doing a great job in his place and Karsen McEwen did today, too. This is a great group of guys. The kids have great team chemistry.”
The teams were scoreless in the second game until the top of the third inning when Butte High took a 1-0 lead on Ossello’s double after a walk to McEwen. The Bulldogs had a four-run outburst in the fourth, started when Hansen was hit by a pitch with one out. Cunningham followed with a bloop single to right, then, after an out, Dunmire lined a single off of Hassler’s glove and Hansen scored. A double steal ensued and Cunningham came home on a passed ball. McEwen reached on an error that scored Dunmire and then Ossello doubled in the fourth run of the frame.
The Maroons put up their run in the fourth as Loos launched a double into center field and came home when Hassler reached on an error, then was thrown out trying to take an extra base.
The Bulldogs plated three runs in the fifth as the first five batters reached base safely – Knott and Tierney on singles, Hansen on an error, Cunningham on a double and Jorgensen on a single.
Trudgeon yielded only a single to Tauscher and double to Loos in spinning his two-hitter.
“I knew this would be tough,” BC coach O’Brien said. “But, in the second game, the first four innings, we were in it. “Coy Campbell, I don’t know how long it has been since he played baseball, but he got his first varsity start the second game and shined in right field. He made four great catches, plays right away. Colt Hassler pitched well. He was doing great and his arm was still strong. He thought he wasn’t doing so well when I came to take him out, but he was just out of innings. We have two more games this week and the pitching has to stay strong.
“This wasn’t a lot of fun. But, we’re young and need experience and we’ll play our best in our baseball games and get excited about next year. I want as bad as Rye (BC’s only starter off the championship Miners team) to win right now. He’s a good kid and deserves it. The other three guys (seniors Loos, Button and Pochervina, also playing after several years removed from the diamond) work their butts off everyday.”

Butte High 001 43(18) x – 26 17 1
Butte Central 000 10( 0) x — 1 2 5
Gavin Trudgeon and Karsen McEwen; Colt Hassler, Gunnar O’Brien (6), Jake Tauscher (6) and Jack Nagle. W — Trudgeon. L – Hassler.
BUTTE HIGH (8-1) – Sean Ossello 2-4, Cayde Stajcar 2-5, Anthony Knott 2-4, Quinn Cox 1-1, Zach Tierney 1-3,Aiden Cuchine 0-0, Caden McGillan 0-0, Trey Hansen 0-3, Jimmy Blow 1-1, Ethan Cunningham 2-3, Tyler Duffy 1-2, Alex Jorgensen 1-1, Mason Armstrong 1-1, Derek Dunmire 1-4, Zach O’Connell 0-0, Karsen McEwen 1-4.
BUTTE CENTRAL (0-9) – Jake Tauscher 1-2, Eric Loos 1-3, Rye Doherty 0-3, Colt Hassler 0-2, Gunnar O’Brien 0-2, Konnor Pochervina 0-2, Coy Campbell 0-0, J.J. Taylor 0-0, Jack Nagle 0-1, Kelton Berger 0-1, Kelton Keane 0-1.
Extra-base hits – 2B – Ossello 2, Cunningham, Loos.
HR – Stajcar (GS).
Runs batted In – Butte High 21 (Stajcar 5, Ossello 3, Cunningham 2, Jorgensen 2, Armstrong 2, Knott 1, Tierney 1, McGillan 1, Blow 1, Duffy 1, Dunmire 1, McEwen 1).

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