By Kim Staudinger
After a tough time in Williston last weekend, the Havre Northstars were finally back at home Saturday and Sunday, playing back-to-back doubleheaders against Medicine Hat and Fort MacLeod.
The Northstars carried a perfect conference record into the weekend, and after beating Medicine Hat twice Saturday, they were ready for Fort MacLeod.
While game one starting pitcher Doug Ireland was warming up, he heard the Royals sounding somewhat overconfident.
"They were saying in the dugout they were the team to beat so we beat them and we're the team to beat," Ireland said.
Ireland allowed just two hits in the first game, shutting out the Royals 3-0.
"I just went up there thinking if you're going to beat us, you're going to have to beat me," Ireland said. Ireland struck out 10 in the game and walked one.
The Northstars won the second game in a shellacking, 20-5.
"They said they wanted the Northstars. Well, they got us," Ireland said.
Havre scattered eight hits over six innings in the first-game win. Designated hitter Steve Heberly drove home Havre's first run in the third, hitting a sacrifice fly to center field, which plated Bobby Bergren, who tripled.
The Northstars also scored two runs in the fifth inning. Bergren hit his second triple of the game in the inning and later scored on a throwing error by the catcher. Heberly also scored in the inning on a sacrifice fly by Danny Wirtzberger.
The Northstars scored 16 runs in the first inning of game two and went on to trounce Fort MacLeod 20-5.
Each Northstar scored at least once in the first and most scored twice. Havre sent 22 batters to the plate but had only eight hits and left the bases loaded. Fort MacLeod committed four errors and had numerous passed balls and wild pitches. Fort MacLeod changed pitchers three times in the inning.
Wirtzberger and Daine Solomon each drove home two in the inning. Heberly scored twice, had a single and a double and also drove home one.
Northstar coach Mickey Williams said games like these are always hard ones to play.
"I hate these games," he said. "The first game was a great game. The second one was hard to watch."
Williams also said the second game was difficult because his players were unable to work on situations like bunting, stealing bases and hitting and running.
After being given the lead, Havre pitcher Eric Lipp had plenty of room to play with. But the 45-minute wait between half innings apparently didn't help. Lipp allowed consecutive singles to lead off the second inning before working out of a jam.
Lipp also gave up back-to-back hits in the third inning the inning in which Fort MacLeod scored three runs.
"You don't like to see that but we had a big enough lead," Williams said. "You lose sync, lose rhythm. It's hard to get back to where you want to be. It's no fun for anyone but the win's nice."
The Royals also scored two runs in the fifth inning on four hits.
Havre added one run in the third inning as Heberly drove home Mark Benjamin, who led off with a single. Benjamin also had a bases loaded double in the fourth to cap the Havre scoring.
Lipp pitched five innings for the win.
The Northstars' next games are Wednesday at Great Falls against the Stallions.