The Butte Copper Kings struck first in an important two-game series with the Salt Lake Trappers, taking a 13-8 victory Friday night at Alumni Coliseum.
Butte now leads the Trappers by two games in the Pioneer League Southern Division with 10 games left in the season. The two contenders meet again tonight for the final time this year.The Copper Kings broke a 6-6 tie with three runs off Trapper starter Bill Wenrick (6-3) in the sixth inning and coasted in.
The Trappers had taken a 3-0 lead in the first inning with Tommy Boyce's RBI single the key hit. Butte reliever Steve Allen reported in place of starter Rob Nen in the first inning and contributed in a big way, holding the Traps to one hit over 41/3 innings.
Joe Wardlow's double brought Butte within 3-1 in the bottom of the first and, in the third, Rod Morris' double tied the game and Trey McCoy put the Copper Kings up 6-3 with a three-run homer. The homer was McCoy's 13th of the year.
But the Trappers came back, using Mando Verdugo's league-leading 14th homer, a two-run shot in the fifth, and Rick Hurni's ground out that scored Jeff Allison in the sixth for a 6-6 tie.
That's when Butte took care of Wenrick with three runs. The Copper Kings went on to score four runs off Tony St. John and Sean Johnson in the closing innings, while the Traps could only counter with single runs in the seventh and ninth.
Despite the loss, the Trappers would still be in excellent position to win the division if they can come away with a victory over the Copper Kings tonight. The Traps' last nine games of the season are against Idaho Falls and Pocatello, four on the road followed by five at home.