By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
The Havre American Legion baseball programs played their best baseball when it mattered most. With a berth to the Class A state tournament at stake, the Northstars and Comets played solidly and at time spectacularly at this weekend's Northern District tournament in Medicine Hat.
The Northstars successfully defended their title, making quick work of the Fort MacLeod Royals 7-2 in Sunday's championship game.
The Comets rode a wave of emotion to a pair of stunning victories to open the tournament before suffering losses to the Northstars and Royals to finish third.
"It was a great weekend," said Northstars coach Mickey Williams. "Both teams played really well and showed how strong our program is."
The Northstars cruised to the semifinals with an easy 19-1 shellacking of the Tri-County Cardinals and a 7-1 win over Fort MacLeod.
Havre banged out 18 hits against the Cardinals as Tyler Thompson and Cory Junck each collected three hits in the win. Ian Spencer got the win going all nine innings and surrendering just one run on eight hits.
Against Fort MacLeod, Thompson was solid on the mound, allowing just the lone run while scattering seven hits against a tough Royals lineup.
Mark Benjamin picked up three hits and a couple of RBIs while Levi Briese was 2-5 with two RBIs.
While the Northstars were flexing their muscle as the tourney's top seed, the scrappy Comets fought their way into the semifinals with a pair of scintillating wins.
The Comets defeated the host Medicine Hat Knights 8-7 to open the tournament. Coda Tchida scored the game-winning run after doubling in the top of the ninth to cap the Comet comeback.
Bret Magelssen picked up the win in relief of starter Chase Castloo. Magelssen allowed just three runs in three innings of work, including a scoreless ninth to secure the win.
Tchida and Jeff Tibbals each had a pair of hits in the game while Tony Christian, Trent Normandy and Ben Erickson all drove in runs.
The win over the host squad was satisfying to head coach Bob Evans and the Comets, but their performance on Friday night was the ultimate in satisfaction.
Riding the strong pitching of ace Normandy, the Comets stunned the top-seeded Lethbridge Miners 7-1 to advance to the semifinals. Normandy went the entire nine innings allowing just one unearned run despite giving up 10 hits in the game.
"Trent was just awesome," Evans said. "He got stronger as the game went on. The big thing was that even though he gave up some hits our defense played well to help him out."
The Comets grabbed a 3-0 lead in the third innings as Christian had an RBI single, Normandy helped his own cause with an RBI double and Tchida added an RBI single in the inning.
Lethbridge's lone run came in the eighth inning as an error allowed Ken Mazurek to score. However, the Comets answered immediately, scoring four more runs in the top of the ninth for some breathing room. Normandy had another RBI single while Erickson and Patterson also picked up run-scoring hits.
"Our kids played so tough in that game," Evans said. "We just stayed so focused and didn't let anything get to us."
Said Williams: "The Comets did us a favor. We struggled playing against Lethbridge all year and they made it so we didn't even have to face them. It made our tournament run much easier."
It set up a showdown between the Havre squads in the semifinals with the winner ensuring themselves of a state tourney berth. The Northstars weren't about to become another in the Comets' string of upsets.
The Northstars got to starter Ben Erickson early, scoring six runs, and scored another six off of reliever Jeff Tibbals to cruise to a 12-0 win.
After surrendering a loss early in the season to the Comets, the Northstars didn't overlook their younger counterparts.
"We were very focused the whole weekend," Williams said. "We weren't taking anything for granted against the Comets. We did that once this season and paid for it."
Said Evans: "We knew the Northstars were going to get some hits and they did. We just didn't get any to even make it close."
Brandon Morse and Chazz Hurlburt combined to get the seven-inning, three-hit shutout with Morse taking the win.
Ian Spencer had three hits and two RBIs for the Northstars and Levi Briese drove in a pair of runs in the win. Tchida, Tyson Anderson and Patch Wirtzberger picked up the Comets' three hits.
With the loss, the Comets had to face Fort MacLeod to advance to the championship game and earn the second state tourney berth.
The Comets fought gallantly but a pair of costly errors led to a 10-9 win for the Royals.
Fort MacLeod's Quade Armstrong broke open a 9-9 game in the bottom of the ninth, scoring on an error in the outfield to give the Royals the win.
Havre had its chances to win the game but the Comets surrendered six runs in the third inning which proved to be costly.
"We made a couple of errors that led to some runs," Evans said. "If we don't make those, we probably win. But I won't fault our kids for that. Errors happen in baseball and you have to overcome them."
Jordon Patterson led the Havre offensive attack, going 3-4 with three RBIs and scoring a pair of runs. Erickson also had a solid game, going 3-5 with an RBI.
With the win, the Royals advanced to the championship game against the Northstars. Havre made quick work of Fort MacLeod, picking up a 7-2 win for its second consecutive district title.
Brandon Morse and Steve Heberly both pitched well, with Morse picking up his second win of the tournament. Heberly had three hits while Daine Solomon and Dusty Heath each drove in a pair of runs.
Williams was obviously pleased with his team's success but was even more pleased with its attitude.
"We came out and set the tone for the tournament right away," he said. "We played with some intensity. Our pitching and fielding were tremendous and we hit the ball hard. There isn't much more you could ask for."
Evans was also pleased with his team's play during its Cinderella run.
"I am so proud of the way our kids played," Evans said. "They played so hard and with so much emotion. I had fans from opposing teams compliment us on how hard our kids played and that's a nice compliment to get."
The Northstars will prepare to head for Hamilton for the Class A state tournament, which begins on Thursday. The Northstars have received a first-round bye and will play Saturday at 5 p.m. against an undetermined opponent.
Tri-County Cardinals 100 000 0 - 1 8 4
Havre Northstars 270 019 X - 19 18 1
Alford, Christians (3) and Zell; Ian Spencer and Adam Jensen. WP - Spencer, LP - Alford.
CARDINALS - Zell 3-3, Snyder 0-3, Alford 1-3, Smith 2-4, Gordon 1-3, Rosenburger 1-3, Guardipee 0-1, Tokerud 0-3, Sytren 0-1, Christians 0-2, Ahrens 0-2.
NORTHSTARS - Steve Heberly 3-4 (2 RBI), Adam Jensen 2-4, Daine Solomon 1-4 (2 RBI), Dusty Heath 2-5 (3 RBI), Tyson Roe 1-4 (RBI), Tyler Thompson 3-4 (2 RBI), Mark Benjamin 2-4 (RBI), Cory Junck 3-5 (2 RBI), Levi Briese 2-2 (RBI).
2B - Heberly, Heath, Benjamin, Junck
3B - none
HR - none
Fort MacLeod Royals 000 010 000 - 1 7 4
Havre Northstars 510 002 01X - 9 14 2
Kenly, Payne(4) and Tillsley; Tyler Thompson and Adam Jensen. WP - Thompson, LP - Kenly.
ROYALS - Schwindt 2-3, Wilson 0-4, Tillsley 0-4, Paskal 1-4, Scobie 2-4, Armstrong 0-3, Payne 2-4, Kenly 0-4, Morkin 1-4.
NORTHSTARS - Steve Heberly 1-6, Adam Jensen 0-3, Daine Solomon 3-4, Dusty Heath 2-5 (RBI), Ian Spencer 1-4, Tyson Roe 2-4 (RBI), Mark Benjamin 3-5 (2 RBI), Cory Junck 1-5, Levi Briese 2-5 (2 RBI).
2B - Solomon, Heath
3B - none
HR - none
Havre Comets 104 200 0 - 0 3 4
Havre Northstars 146 006 X - 12 14 1
Ben Erickson, Jeff Tibbals (5), and Patch Wirtzberger; Brandon Morse, Chazz Hurlburt (5) and Adam Jensen. WP - Morse, LP - Erickson
COMETS - Jeff Tibbals 0-3, Patch Wirtzberger 1-3, Tony Christian 0-3, Trent Normandy 0-3, Coda Tchida 1-2, Jordon Patterson 0-3, Tyson Anderson 1-2, Bret Magelssen 0-2, Bryden Vukasin 0-1, Kaare Engebretson 0-2.
NORTHSTARS - Steve Heberly 2-5 (RBI), Adam Jensen 2-4 (2 RBI), Daine Solomon 0-2, Dusty Heath 1-4, Ian Spencer 3-4 (2 RBI), Tyson Roe 0-3, Tyler Thompson 2-3 (RBI), Cory Junck 2-4 (RBI), Levi Briese 1-3, (2 RBI), Mark Benjamin 1-1 (RBI).
2B - none
3B - none
HR - none
Med. Hat Knights 000 040 210 - 7 15 3
Havre Comets 101 003 201 - 8 10 2
Chase Castloo, Bret Magelssen (7) and Patch Wirtzberger; Smeby and Muryn. WP - Magelssen, LP - Smeby
KNIGHTS - Haberlock 1-4, Muryn 3-5, Rittinger 1-4, Patience 1-4, Prosser 1-4, Lewis 3-4, Hitchen 0-4, Rintoul 2-4, Coehorn 2-4.
COMETS - Jeff Tibbals 2-5, Patch Wirtzberger 0-3, Tony Christian 1-4 (RBI), Trent Normandy 1-4 (RBI), Coda Tchida 2-5 (RBI), Jordon Patterson 1-4, Tyson Anderson 1-2, Ben Erickson 1-2, Kaare Engebretson 0-3.
2B - Tchida, Anderson
3B - none
HR - none
Havre Comets 003 000 004 - 7 8 2
Lethbridge Miners 000 000 010 - 1 10 3
Trent Normandy and Patch Wirtzberger; M. Smith and MacLeod. WP - Normandy, LP - Smith.
COMETS - Jeff Tibbals 2-5, Patch Wirtzberger 1-4, Tony Christian 1-4 (RBI), Trent Normandy 2-5 (2 RBI), Coda Tchida 2-5 (RBI), Jordon Patterson 2-5, Ben Erickson 1-3, Eric Fanning 1-4, Kaare Engebretson 0-4.
MINERS - D. Smith 2-5, Balog 2-4, Peters 1-5, LeClair 1-4, Mazuerk 1-4. MacLeod 2-4, Troutman 1-4, Granberg 1-4, Sedgewick 0-4.
2B - Normandy, MacLeod
3B - none
HR - none
Havre Comets 231 200 100 - 9 13 2
Fort MacLeod Royals 026 010 001 - 10 8 3
Chase Castloo, Bret Magelssen (5) and Patch Wirtzberger; Egger, Wilson (2) and Tillsley. WP - Wilson, LP - Castloo.
COMETS - Jeff Tibbals 1-5, Patch Wirtzberger 1-4, Tony Christian 1-3, Trent Normandy 1-3 (RBI), Coda Tchida 1-5 (RBI), Jordon Patterson 3-4 (3 RBI), Tyson Anderson 0-4 (RBI), Ben Erickson 3-5 (RBI), Kaare Engebretson 2-5.
ROYALS - Schwindt 3-5, Wilson 1-3, Tillsley 0-4, Armstrong 1-5, Paskal 0-4, Payne 2-4, Kenly 2-3, Egger 0-1, Wilson 1-3
2B - Erickson
3B - none
HR - Payne 2
Ft. MacLeod Royals 000 000 110 - 2 10 3
Havre Northstars 113 100 10X - 7 11 1
Payne, Kenly (3) and Tillsley; Brandon Morse, Steve Heberly (7) and Adam Jensen. WP - Morse, LP - Payne.
ROYALS - Schwindt 3-5, Wilson 1-4, Tillsley 2-4, Armstrong 3-4 (RBI), Scobie 0-4, Paskal 1-3, Payne 0-0, Egger 0-2, Kenly 0-4, Morkin 0-4.
NORTHSTARS - Steve Heberly 3-4, Adam Jensen 1-3, Daine Solomon 1-3 (2 RBI), Dusty Heath 2-4 (2 RBI), Ian Spencer 0-3, Tyler Thompson 1-4, Mark Benjamin 3-3, Cory Junck 0-3 (RBI), Chazz Hurlburt 0-3.
2B - Schwindt, Wilson, Tillsley, Solomon
3B - none
HR - none