By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
If the Havre Northstars were suffering from any rust, it certainly didn't show.
The Northstars pounded out 11 hits and scored 12 runs en route to a relatively easy 12-1 five-inning victory over the Great Falls Stallions' A squad in the opening game of a split-game doubleheader at Legion Field.
It was the first game for the Northstars in almost a month, and head coach Mickey Williams was pleasantly surprised with his team's performance.
"We didn't hit the ball as well as I'd have liked," Williams said. "But our pitching was good and I liked the fact that we had only one error. We haven't had many practices with everyone together lately."
The Northstars didn't get off to a rousing start. Starter Brandon Morse looked a little tight on the mound and walked the first batter of the game and hit the next batter. Morse struck out the third batter, Kevin Hatley. However, he surrendered a pair of singles to clean-up hitter John Carroll and Matt Kakalecik that led to the Stallions' lone run.
After working his way through the first inning, Morse settled down and never allowed another runner past second in three innings of work.
While Morse was getting settled in, the Northstar bats were getting going. Havre capitalized on a pair of walks in the first inning as Tyler Thompson and Mark Benjamin picked up a pair of RBI singles.
Up 4-1, the Northstars broke the game open in the fourth inning, scoring six runs on four hits. Chazz Hurlburt scored a pair of runs on a single while Benjamin added two more RBIs to his total with a triple.
Havre ended the game in the bottom of the fifth as Thompson collected his fourth hit of the game, plating Adam Jensen and Bobby Bergren to end the game because of the 10-run mercy rule.
Morse picked up the win pitching three innings, allowing one earned run, surrendering three hits and striking out five batters. Ian Spencer relieved Morse and pitched solidly, striking out four batters in two innings and not allowing a run.
"Ian really did a nice job pitching," Williams said. "He was very sharp. Brandon pitched pretty good once he got warmed up a little."
Thompson finished the game 4-4 with three RBIs while Benjamin was 2-2 with three RBIs. Hurlburt chipped in with a pair of hits and a pair of RBIs.
In the nightcap of the doubleheader, the Havre Comets capitalized on eight walks by Great Falls pitchers and three errors by Great Falls fielders to pick up a 12-2 win in five innings.
The Comets picked up only four hits in the game, but they were timely ones with three of the hits scoring two runs apiece.
After playing four games last weekend, the Comets were much sharper, having had the game experience.
"Having those four ballgames last weekend really helped," said Comets head coach Bob Evans. "The kids were really pumped up to play at home."
The Comets got solid pitching from a trio of hurlers. Trent Normandy started the game and picked up the win, going three innings and surrendering just one earned run. Jeff Tibbals pitched a scoreless fourth while Chase Castloo added a scoreless fifth inning.
"The pitchers threw strikes, which is important," Evans said. "And the defense made a few plays."
More importantly to Evans, he was able to play all of his players in the game.
"It's a fun game to win and we got everyone some playing time," Evans said.
The Comets trailed 2-1 going into the bottom of the third. However, a single by Tony Christian, a pair of walks and a single by Normandy quickly grabbed a 3-2 lead. The Comets picked up five runs in the third inning to take a 6-2 lead.
Havre added three more runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth behind a triple by Christian to end the game early.
Christian collected two of the Comets' four hits, including a pair of RBIs and a pair of runs scored. Normandy had the Comets' other two hits and four RBIs in the game.
The Northstars and Comets will be in action Wednesday when they face each other in a nine-inning conference game at 7 p.m. at Legion Field.
NORTHSTARS 301 62 - 12 11 1
STALLIONS 100 00 - 1 3 5
Brandon Morse (WP), Ian Spencer (4) and Adam Jensen; Hatley (LP), Gugsberg (4), Strong (5) and and Burrows.
NORTHSTARS - Adam Jensen 1-4, Bob Bergren 0-3; Corey Junck 1-4, Chazz Hurlburt 2-2 (3 RBI), Tyler Thompson 4-4 (3 RBI), Mark Benjamin 2-2 (3 RBI), Ian Spencer 0-1, Tyson Roe 1-3, Ben Mader 0-3.
STALLIONS - Murry 0-2, Remus 0-2, Hatley 0-3, Carroll 1-3, Kaklecik 1-1, Doty 1-2, Griffith 0-2, Burrows 0-2, Wald 0-2.
3B - Benjamin
COMETS 015 43 - 12 4 0
STALLIONS 002 00 - 2 4 2
Trent Normandy (WP), Jeff Tibbals (4), Chase Castloo (1) and Mike Olson.
COMETS - Tony Christian 2-4 (2 RBI, 2R), Kaare Engebretson 0-0 (3BB, 3R), Jordon Patterson 0-3 (2R); Trent Normandy 2-3 (4RBI); Coda Tchida 0-0 (2BB, 2R); Chase Castloo 0-1; Ben Erickson 0-2, Tyson Anderson 0-1, Mike Olson 0-3, Bret Magelssen 0-2, Bryden Vukasin 0-1, Eric Fanning 0-2 (2R).
STALLIONS - Wald 0-2; Kakalecic 0-3, Strong 0-3, Carroll 1-3, Hatley 0-1, Burrows 1-3, Griffith 0-2, Baldwin 0-1, Hedstrom 1-2.
2B - Normandy
3B - Christian By