MISSOULA – Butte and Missoula Sentinel have seen plenty of games already canceled this spring due to poor weather. So the two squads quickly threw together a doubleheader for a decent Monday in Missoula, and both teams left with reasons to feel good.
Butte used a sixth-inning rally, and then a few clutch outs to hold off Sentinel 6-5 in the first game. The Spartans bats exploded early in an 18-2 victory in game two.
The two teams went back and forth through a very exciting opening contest. Sentinel scored one in the first. Butte answered with two in the third. The Spartans then tied it up in the bottom of the third before taking the lead back with two runs in the fourth.
Sentinel still held a 4-2 lead in the top of the sixth when the Bulldogs rallied. Spartans’ starter Amber Hickethier walked in a run with the bases loaded. Then Emma Cox hit a fly ball that landed in the right-center field gap, bringing in two and giving Butte the 5-4 lead. Brianna Ossello added another run with a soft liner into left, giving Butte a 6-4 lead.
Sentinel went down 1-2-3 in the sixth, but put together a rally in the bottom of the seventh. The Spartans put runners on second and third with no one out. After a strikeout, Kayla Daily laid down a perfect bunt that scored one run. She then stole second base.
But with the tying run on third, and the winning run on second, Butte pitcher Kaidy McClafferty forced a pop-out and a weak ground-out to win the game 6-5. McClafferty also struck out 10, one week after throwing a no-hitter across town at Missoula Big Sky.
Sentinel took the drama out of game two early. The Spartans exploded for 11 runs in the first, sending 16 batters to the plate before Butte could get out of the inning. The barrage was highlighted by a Taylor Brinkman grand slam. She drove in six runs in the game.
Sentinel added four more runs in the second, and Brinkman and Shelby Dunwell combined to only give up two runs and three hits over five innings. The game was called after five innings due to the ten-run rule, 18-2.
Both teams entered the day with 1-0 records and leave with 2-1 marks. Butte will head to Belgrade for a makeup game on Wednesday. Sentinel will host the first Western AA conference games of the season, playing both Kalispell Glacier and Kalispell Flathead on Tuesday.