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Southern A District Tournament: Bozeman Bucks, Belgrade Bandits, Butte Miners advance

Southern A District Tournament: Bozeman Bucks, Belgrade Bandits, Butte Miners advance

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Jackson Burke threw a no-hitter and Dillon Coleman notched two RBIs as the Bozeman Bucks A team shutout the Dillon Cubs 10-0 in the opening round of the Southern A District Tournament on Thursday morning in Three Forks.

The Bucks, who entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed, advance into a Friday quarterfinal game at 2 p.m. while the No. 5 Cubs drop into the loser-out bracket.

The game was scoreless after two innings before Bozeman reeled off 5 runs in the third, expanded its lead to 7-0 after the fourth and then added on three runs in the fifth to take a 10-0 lead and claim a run-rule victory.

Daniel Beers and Michael Armstrong scored two runs apiece for the Bucks. Burke notched two strikeouts through five innings and one walk. 

BELGRADE 13, ANACONDA 2

Cooper VanLuchene and Coby Richards each batted in three runners and the top-seeded Belgrade Bandits used a nine-run fourth inning to surge past the No. 8 Anaconda A’s in five innings.

The Bandits will face the Bozeman Bucks on Friday at 2 p.m. in a quarterfinal while the Dillon Cubs will take on the Anaconda A’s in a 9 a.m. loser out game.

Wyatt Russell earned the win for the Bandits, allowing two runs on five hits through five innings while notching three strikeouts.

Belgrade outhit Anaconda 7-6 and Seth Green added two RBIs for Belgrade.

Belgrade took a 2-0 lead after one inning before erupting for nine runs in the bottom of the third. The Bandits then added on two runs in the fourth.

BUTTE 11, LIVINGSTON 1 

The Braves took the opening 1-0 lead by taking advantage of a Scott Tatum walk with hits by SS River Smith and 1B and reliever Casey Miller, with Miller’s hit scoring Tatum.

Butte’s initial response centered around lead-off hitter Rylan Richards, who got on base with a well-hit single and then followed up by stealing second base and then eventually stealing home to ensure the Miners tied it up before Tatum retired the inning.

LeProwse commented on Livingston’s fielding and defensive play early, saying that his team hit well but that the Braves were ready.

“Credit to Livingston, I thought their guys did really well,” LeProwse said. “Made some plays. We hit the ball hard a couple times and they made some plays on it.”

Reece Cox received the start on the mound for the Miners, and not giving up a hit in the second as well as earning his first strikeout of the game to ensure Butte maintained the even score.

However, Tatum responded with an impressive response of his own, only seeing Butte’s 3B Kian O’Neill get on base before closing out the second.

While the Braves were unable to retake the lead in the third, they did come close through a Smith single and then walks of Miller and catcher David Osen, setting up Livingston with loaded bases.

Cox did well to recover, though, forcing a flyout and keeping the game locked at 1-1. That being said, Livingston didn’t lose confidence, going three-up, three-down to head to the fourth inning.

After last weekend’s sweep over the Braves, the Miners had a much tougher start to Thursday’s game says SS Ryan Wahl.

“It was a slow start,” Wahl said. “Kind of got nervous a little bit but I knew we’d starting picking up on them. We were hitting them, just kind of bloopers. We settled in and got the nerves out.”

That happened in earnest in the fourth inning, after Cox and relieving pitcher Hunter Salcido worked through three Braves batters, setting Wahl up to open the bottom of the fourth with a single.

After Wahl’s opener, 1B Aidan Lee was walked and 2B Eric Hart followed with a single, loading the bases for Butte with zero outs and DH Kenley Leary up to bat.

Leary made no mistake, ripping a single that scored Wahl and Lee. O’Neill added another single to reload the bases and earn another fun after Zach Tierney was walked by Tatum to make it 4-1.

The Miners had runners on base, but Tatum did well to force two quick hits and outs and mitigate the damage for the Braves.

Livingston recognized that they needed a scoring response, and after Tatum was walked, singles from Smith and Miller again had the bases loaded for the Braves.

Salcido responded with a strikeout though, making it a fielder’s choice groundout to not allow any Braves runs and get the Miners up to bat.

With Wahl to lead off the 5th, the floodgates broke open as the shortstop hit another single, stole second, and was scored by a Lee single to begin a scoring onslaught.

After a Hart single, Leary earned his third RBI of the evening by scoring Lee, and was scored himself by a Coyt Stojcur double, which also scored Hart.

Two more doubles from Richards and LF Egan Lester made it 10-1 and brought the Miners to the batter that started the scoring run in Wahl with the game-winning run on second.

Wahl made the most of it, squeezing in a single out in short right-field to score Lester and advance Butte.

However, Wahl wasn’t even aware of the situation.

“I didn’t even know it was a walk-off when I hit,” Wahl said. “[The Miners] came out of the dug out, and I was like, ‘What the heck are you guys doing?’”

For LeProwse, it’s almost like Wahl was just following the mindset of “one-pitch-at-a-time.”

“Good for him,” LeProwse said. “Just playing pitch by pitch and hitting balls hard. That’s what we want our batters to do, they really shouldn’t be thinking about this and that, find the pitch they can hit hard and hit it hard.”

Now, the Miners await the winner of the Game 5 between the Helena Senators and the Gallatin Valley Outlaws.

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