Butte Miners two wins from Northwest title | Legion Baseball

BUTTE — The plan ain’t broke, and the Butte Miners, who are in play for yet another milestone title, have nothing to fix.

Following a similar blueprint that netted them the Class A State Tournament title in Belgrade on July 31, the Miners are a win away (from being a win away) from the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament title.

Rather than try to save pitching for the tournament’s final days, Butte once again threw its top three starters — in terms of experience and consistency — in its first three games. Thanks in part to the outings of, in order, Ethan Cunningham, Kenley Leary and Rye Doherty, the Miners qualified for the tournament’s final day and feel they have the pitching depth and offensive potency to win another championship.

“They have that want and drive to put up as big (of) numbers as we can,” Butte head coach Jim LeProwse said. “Our whole mindset is just press, press, press. Just get after it offensively and put pressure on other teams.”

The Miners have scored 15, 13 and 11 runs through three games in Vernal, Utah.

Tonight’s game against Ridgeline, Utah, will present the only real wrinkle for the Miners. Like last week in Belgrade, the Miners are in the title game(s) regardless of tonight’s outcome. Like last week, they have Trey Hansen lined up for a potential championship game start. However, George Riojas will start tonight instead of Cayde Stajcar, who started Butte’s fourth game of the tournament at state.

“George doesn’t throw as hard as other guys, but boy does he have some great off-speed stuff,” LeProwse said. “I think he’ll do pretty good, and we can always throw Eric Hart and Tyler Duffy and Gavin Trudgeon if we need to.”

Stajcar fractured his right thumb when he was hit by a pitch against the Havre Northstars on July 30.

“He’s wearing a splint to play, and he’s able to throw in the field and hit,” LeProwse said.

If the Miners beat Ridgeline, they will need just one win against the winner of Minico, Idaho, and Redmond, Oregon. If the Miners lose they will play one winner-take all game against the winner of Tuesday morning’s semis.

The games can be streamed here.

Butte Miners 11, Minico Storm 1

The Miners qualified for Tuesday’s title game(s) with their first run-rule victory of the tournament on Sunday against Minico of Rupert, Idaho.

Kenley Leary was overpowering in a nine-strikeout, five-hit outing. He walked only one batter and allowed just one run — a solo home run to Storm pitcher Dax Sayer in the top of the first inning.

After that, it was all Miners. Butte took the lead in the bottom half of the inning with an Eric Hart RBI double that drove in Egan Lester and they never looked back.

The Miners scored four runs in the third and fourth innings and the walk-off run in the bottom of the fifth.

Up 10-1 and needing one run to enact the 10-run rule, Hart hit an opposite field double to score Lester for the second time of the game.

Hart and Leary were each 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI each. Lester was 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored.

The four-through-six hitters connected for just one hit but reached base on six walks that resulted in four runs.

Zach Tierney hit an RBI pinch-hit single to score Doherty in the bottom of the fourth. Doherty’s RBI single scored Stajcar in the third.

The Miners stole five bases and played error-free defense against the Storm.

Butte Miners 13, Service Cougars 11

In their closest call of the postseason play, the Miners held on for a two-run win against the Cougars (Anchorage, Alaska) on Saturday.

Butte led 12-7 after four innings and 13-9 after six and needed to bring in Riojas to close the game with two outs and the tying run on second base.

The Miners hit three home runs against Service. Stajcar and Tierney went back-to-back in the fourth inning. Stajacr’s center-field blast drove in Aidan Lee. Tierney also hit a two-run shot to score Stajcar in the third.

Cougars second baseman Hunter Christian hit a solo home run to lead off the top of the fourth inning.

The Miners opened a four-run cushion with a seven-run third inning.

Before Tierney’s homer, Hart hit a line-drive triple to center to score Lester. Aidan Lee followed with a sacrifice fly to score Hart. After the home run, Quinn Cox and Cunningham singled, Leary doubled and Lester singled to tack on three more runs.

Doherty threw 107 pitches in his start, relegating him to third base for the remainder of the tournament and Hansen threw 60, which required him two days of rest before his next pitching outing. Riojas threw just eight pitches to allow a walk then induce a pop-out to close the game.


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