Butte's Ethan Cunningham pitches against the Billings Cardinals during a 7-3 win on the second day of the Class A State Tournament in Belgrade on Thursday. Cunningham pitched a complete game to beat the Cardinals.

BUTTE — The Butte Miners looked right at home during a first-round win at the Northwest Class A Regional Tournament in Vernal, Utah, on Friday.

The Miners boasted two of their typical avalanche innings and hit two home runs in a 15-10 win over the Redmond SunWest A team from Redmond, Oregon.

Head coach Jim LeProwse, speaking on the phone during a game between Ridgeline, Utah, and Casper, Wyoming, said the competition thus far looks on par with some of the better teams in Montana's Class A. He said teams like Belgrade, Gallatin Valley, Laurel and Glacier would all have a shot to be successful from what he's seen so far.

"I didn't know what to expect for sure," LeProwse said. "There's a lot of Montana teams that would probably do pretty well down here."

Kenley Leary, MVP of the Class A State Tournament in Belgrade last weekend, hit a two-run home run in the top of the fourth to give the Miners a 7-4 lead. 

Leary finished 4-for-5 with two doubles, four RBI and three runs scored. He also threw 45 pitches during a two-inning relief outing. He will be eligible to pitch next on Sunday.

Catcher Evan Starr tied the game with one swing of the bat in the second. His first-pitch home run to left field scored Zach Tierney and Rye Doherty to make it 3-3. Starr was 2-for-3 with four RBI, two runs scored and a walk.

"Both balls were stroked, they were hammered," LeProwse said of the home runs.

Butte pitcher Ethan Cunningham was credited with the win. He allowed eight runs (five earned) on nine hits and four walks.

The Miners scored eight in the top of the fifth and nearly ended the game early but Redmond scored four in the bottom half of the inning to extend the game to the full seven frames.

Butte sent 14 batters to the plate and recorded five hits and six walks. Cayde Stajcar hit an RBI triple, drew a walk and scored twice in the inning. Leary's single drove in Tierney and Doherty. Eric Hart hit a bases-clearing single to right to score Starr, Leary and Egan Lester.

The Miners led 15-4 heading to the bottom of the fifth and needed just three outs to end the game via the 10-run rule. 

Redmond struck for three runs on three singles, a stolen base and an error in the bottom of the first inning.

In what's been a trend of the last couple weeks, the Miners quickly erased the early deficit and it wasn't long before they pulled away from their opponent.

After Starr's second-inning homer, Lester hit a two-out RBI triple to center to score Leary and Hart followed with a single to center to bring in Lester.

LeProwse said fatigue — whether from the two-day trip from Butte to Vernal, or the compacted schedule over the past three weeks — may have affected the Miners' focus and contributed to some errors on plays they normally make.

"I think we'll settle in and we'll be just fine," LeProwse said. "We should compete real well I think. One more win and that puts us in the top four, for sure."

Doherty will start Saturday's 7 p.m. game against the winner of Friday's late game between Vernal, Utah, and Alaska.

Dante Frattini is the sports editor for the Montana Standard and a writer 406MTSports.com. Email him at dante.frattini@406mtsports.com and follow him on Twitter @DanteMTS406.

Load comments