By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
There is an unwritten rule when it comes to winning baseball games. You can give up one of three evils - walks, hits or errors - and still win most games. However, if you give up two, winning is tough. And if you give up three, its impossible.
The Havre Northstars not only gave up all three evils, they gave them all up in one inning. Havre committed a costly error, surrendered four hits and walked three batters as the Great Falls Stallions AA squad scored seven runs in one inning to win the opening game of a non-conference doubleheader 8-4.
The Stallions completed the sweep with an 8-3 win in the nightcap to improve their record to 20-10 on the season while the Northstars fell to 15-11.
Havre grabbed a commanding 4-0 lead in the first three innings thanks to some timely hitting and some timely Stallion errors.
But the wheels fell off in the fourth, starter Steve Heberly walked the lead-off batter, Ray Cook, to start the problems. He surrendered a single to Kelly Kain but rallied to strike out Kori Wade. However, another single by Mike Miller gave the Stallions their first run. Another walk loaded the bases. Still, it appeared Heberly would get out of the inning as he induced a groundball to third. But Tyler Thompson was unable to come up with it cleanly and couldn't get an out, which prolonged the inning.
The Stallions capitalized scoring three more runs, and took a 7-4 lead.
"When you have walks, errors and hits in one inning that is going to happen," said head coach Mickey Williams. "Steve walked a few guys, we had an error on a perfect double play ball and they got some timely hits."
While a three-run lead is far from unsurmountable, the Northstars couldn't mount a comeback. A combination of three Stallions pitchers held Havre to just one hit in the final four innings. One day after sweeping a doubleheader against the Stallions A squad and three days after a long weekend of games, the Northstars were battling a little fatigue.
"We were dead," Williams said. "We just didn't have any excitement. We didn't play with any enthusiasm. We're good enough to play with those teams, but not without any enthusiasm."
Heberly took the loss in the game while Mike Miller picked up the win in relief for the Stallions. Havre was led by Tyson Roe, who was 2-3 with an RBI. Adam Jensen had an RBI triple while Mark Benjamin also had a pair of hits.
The three evils that hurt the Northstars in the first game came back to haunt them in the second game. One day after not walking a batter in a five-inning, 60-pitch win over the Stallions A squad, Northstar pitcher Brandon Morse walked seven batters and uncorked three wild pitches and the Stallions AA capitalized by pounding out 11 hits to sweep the doubleheader.
"Brandon just put himself in a hole with those walks," Williams said. "We can't defend a walk. He didn't walk a guy the day before. I think he may have been overthrowing a little because they're a pretty good team."
While the Stallions capitalized on the mistakes, the Northstars couldn't return the favor. Great Falls committed four errors and the Northstars scattered out eight hits. But the hits never seemed to come with runners on base. Havre left 10 men on base including six in scoring position.
"We just didn't get key hits when we needed to," Williams said. "We hit the ball hard when we hit it."
But the problem in the game was that the Northstars weren't hitting the ball enough. Havre struck out nine times in the game, several coming with runners on base.
Dusty Heath led the Northstars offensively with a pair of hits and an RBI while Heberly, Thompson and Junck each had doubles in the game. Morse took the loss for the Northstars while Garrett Thompson picked up the win for Great Falls.
In the grand scheme of things, the losses weren't season threatening, as they were non-conference games. Still, Williams felt like his team needed a little better effort.
"We have to learn to play better when we're tired, because that's what happens at a state tournament," Williams said. "It's still about competing. We have to keep working and playing hard in games like that."
The competition doesn't get any easier for the Northstars as they head to the Gallatin Valley baseball tournament in Three Forks, where they will see possibly four or five of the top teams in the state including the Glendive Blue Devils, the Bitterroot Bucs and Red Sox, Gallatin Valley, Livingston and the Billings Royals.
Great Falls Stallions AA 000 701 0 - 8 8 4
Havre Northstars 103 000 0 - 4 7 1
Chase Shanks, Randy Rust (3), Mike Miller (WP), Ray Cook (7) and Jake Thares; Steve Heberly (LP), Ian Spencer (5) and Adam Jensen.
STALLIONS - Grant Thompson 2-4 (2 RBI), Tony Forster 0-2, Josh Talley 1-3 (2 RBI), Ray Cook 1-3 (1 RBI), Kelly Kain 2-3, Dave Romsa 0-1, Kori Wade 0-4, Mike Miller 2-3 (1 RBI), Matt Schoonover 0-3, Jake Thares 0-4.
NORTHSTARS - Mark Benjamin 2-4, Adam Jensen 1-4 (1 RBI), Daine Solomon 0-3, Dusty Heath 1-4, Tyler Thompson 0-4, Ian Spencer 1-2, Tyson Roe 2-3 (1 RBI), Cory Junck 0-3, Levi Briese 0-2.
2B - Roe
3B - Jensen
HR - Talley
Great Falls Stallions AA 302 010 2 - 8 12 4
Havre Northstars 001 011 0 - 3 8 0
Kori Wade, Dusty Bernier (3), Garrett Thompson (5 - WP), Ronnie Morales (7) and Dave Romsa; Brandon Morse (LP) and and Levi Briese.
STALLIONS - Garrett Thompson 0-5, Tony Forster 3-4 (1 RBI), Josh Talley 1-4, Kelly Kain 1-3 (2 RBI), Mike Miller 2-2 (2 RBI), Ronnie Morales 1-3, Matt Schoonover 2-3, David Romsa 0-4.
NORTHSTARS - Steve Heberly 1-4, Adam Jensen 0-2, Daine Solomon 1-3, Dusty Heath 2-4 (1 RBI), Tyler Thompson 1-4, Ian Spencer 1-4, Mark Benjamin 0-4, Cory Junck 1-3, Levi Briese 1-3.
2B - Forster, Heberly, T. Thompson, Junck
3B - none
HR - none