Tri-County Cardinals

The Tri-County Cardinals were victorious in their first two games of the season in a double header against the Great Falls Lightning.

Playing in Conrad, the Cardinals won the first game in a close contest, 9-8, and the second game, 12-4.

The season opener on Sunday was a somber event. Cardinal player Briton Bunnell of Shelby had died in a car accident in Pondera County one week earlier.

“Getting the call as a human being that you don’t ever want to get, and that’s that a 17-year-old boy has passed away in a tragic accident this week,” Tri-County Head Coach Bjorn Swanson said to Montana Sports reporter Isaiah Dunk in a piece for the KRTV news station.

Swanson said the team is finding both solace and pain in baseball because they’re a small, very close-knit team. “It’s been hard. It’s been hard both as a coach grieving and trying to get 11 young men through it,” he said.

Members of Bunnell’s family watched the doubleheader with Great Falls Lightning. The Cardinals players wore Bunnell’s No. 7 on the back of their jerseys on Sunday.

In the opening game, Great Falls took an early lead, 3-2, after the first inning. The Cardinals added to their score with one run in the second and three more in the third. They again scored in the fourth inning. Great Falls came back bringing one across home plate in the fifth inning. The Cardinals scored twice in the final inning, with Great Falls bringing in four runs.

Scoring for the Cardinals in the first game was Carson Bitney, 2; Brinkley Evans, 4; Tony Daley, Jette Pruttis and Kolby Kovatch, one each. Scoring for the Tri-County team in the second game were Kyler Crabtree, 1; Bitney, 2; Evans, 2; Breadon Hutton, 3; Daley, 2; Pruttis, 1 and Kovatch, 1.

Kovatch and Daley pitched the first game. Crabtree, Pruttis, Hutton and Evans took the mound for the second.

The two teams battled back and forth in the opening two innings of the second game. The Cardinals scored three runs in the first inning and added another in the second. Great Falls did just the opposite; they scored one in the first inning and three in the second. Tied going into the third inning, the Cardinals’ bats came to life. They scored two runs in the third and three each in the fourth and fifth inning while stopping Great Falls from scoring throughout the rest of the game.

The following is the schedule for the team made up of athletes from around the region including Choteau. The team’s home games are played in Conrad.

•June 16, Tri-County at Havre, 5 p.m.

•June 23, Tri-County at Great Falls, TBA.

•June 25, Lewistown at Tri-County, 2 p.m.

•June 26, Tri-County at Helena, 5:30/8:30 p.m.

•July 1, Havre at Tri-County, 2 p.m.

•July 7, Tri-County at Havre, 5 p.m.

•July 11, Tri-County at Lewistown, 3 p.m.

•July 14, Great Falls at Tri-County, 2 p.m.

•July 17, Lewistown at Tri-County, 2 p.m.

•July 22, Tri-County at Lewistown, 5 p.m.

•July 25, Tri-county at Great Falls, TBA.

•July 30-31, North Districts at Great Falls, TBA.