By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
Spot a team five runs in the first inning? No problem. At least not for the Havre Comets. For the third successive game, the Comets battled back from an early deficit to pick up their fourth consecutive win on this season.
After spotting the Deer Lodge Wranglers five runs in the first inning, the Comets chipped away at the early lead and exploded for a six-run fourth inning to grab a 14-7 win Thursday night on the opening day of the Havre Baseball Jamboree at Legion Field.
The Comets were anything but sharp to open the game against the Wranglers. Deer Lodge picked up five hits off starter Ben Erickson to open the game, but none could be labeled shots. Instead, the hits were just hard enough to find openings. Havre didn't help itself as it committed two costly errors as the Wranglers grabbed an early lead.
"Ben wasn't throwing that bad," said Comets head coach Bob Evans. "There weren't any real shots. We just didn't make some plays and the errors hurt us."
However, if their last few games proved one thing, the Comets won't roll over and die.
"I told the kids we just have to hold 'em for a couple innings and we'll catch them," Evans said. "We knew we could get two or three runs every inning."
The Comets didn't quite do that, rather they tried to get it all back in the second inning. Havre got four runs on four hits with the big blow coming from Patch Wirtzberger, who laced a two-run double to the right center gap as the Comets pulled within one at 5-4.
Deer Lodge tacked on runs in the third and fourth innings to extend the lead to 7-4. However, Havre exploded for six runs in the bottom of the fourth. Successive singles from Mike Olson, Bret Magelssen and Eric Fanning opened the inning and got things rolling. Coda Tchida cleared the bases with a triple, while Kaare Engebretson picked up a pair of RBIs with his second double of the game.
With a 10-7 lead, Erickson got tougher on the mound as the game progressed. He held Deer Lodge to just two hits and no runs in the final three innings to pick up the win.
While he was pleased with the heart his team showed in the comeback, Evans admitted that heart won't always win games.
"We're not going to be able to spot teams that many runs like that," Evans said. "We can't keep coming from behind all the time. We need to come out and play more consistently earlier in games."
The Comets will face the Lewistown Redbirds today at 6:30 p.m. Lewistown fell to Kootenai Valley on Thursday afternoon and will be ready for the Comets. Earlier in the season, the Redbirds swept the Comets in a doubleheader in Lewistown.
"We should be able to compete with them," Evans said. "We need to make the routine plays against them. We felt like we could compete when we played them the first time. I am sure they have gotten better since then, but so have we."
While the Comets were coming from behind, their older cohorts continued to have trouble putting teams away.
Despite leaving five runners on base - four in scoring position- the Northstars defeated the Glasgow Reds 5-2 in their first game of the jamboree.
Leaving runners on base is something that happens in games, but the way they were left on was upsetting to Northstar head coach Mickey Williams.
The Northstars struck out six times with runners on base, and Williams believed that his players attitude at the plate was the factor.
"We just weren't aggressive at the plate," Williams said. "We watched too many good pitches go by and way too many third strikes, especially with runners in scoring position."
Still, when the Northstars hit the ball, they hit it hard. Dusty Heath blasted a lead-off triple in the second inning and was knocked in by Tyler Thompson to tie the game at 1-1. They added a run in the fourth as Ian Spencer scored Heath with a single to go up 2-1.
In the fifth, Glasgow got to starter Chazz Hurlburt as Randy Elleton's second double of the game scored Michael Southern to tie the game at two.
"Chazz pitched pretty well, but his curveball wasn't doing much and they finally started getting their timing on him," Williams said.
Steve Heberly came in in relief for Hurlburt and was solid, shutting out Glasgow the rest of the way and not allowing a hit.
The Northstars immediately answered in the bottom half of the fifth, as Heberly had an RBI-single and Daine Solomon scored Heberly on a long double off the wall.
Havre tacked on another run in the sixth inning as a little insurance.
Williams was pleased with the win, but felt like his team had plenty of chances to put the Reds away early and didn't.
"Just about every game we've played this year, we've kept teams in games," Williams said. "We are not aggressive enough to put teams away early. We played solidly; it wasn't anything great, but it wasn't anything that will hurt you either. Once we start clicking a little more we'll be fine."
The Northstars don't have much time to start clicking as they face their budding rival, the Bitterroot Red Sox, tonight at 9.
There should be no shortage of motivation as the Red Sox have eliminated the Northstars from the state tournament the past two years.
"We should be ready," Williams said. "This is the type of game that shouldn't be hard to get up to play for. It will definitely be a test to see where we are at."
Brandon Morse will get the start tonight for the Northstars, while Bret Magelssen will start for the Comets.
Deer Lodge Wranglers 501 100 0 - 7 11 1
Havre Comets 040 604 X - 14 14 3
David Williamson (LP), Travis Thompson (6) and Dusty Gliko; Ben Erickson (WP) and Patch Wirtzberger.
WRANGLERS - Mike Lowery 1-3, Shane Niederklein 1-4, Mike Cease 2-4, Dusty Gliko 1-3, Skyler Knuchel 2-4, David Williamson 1-2, Travis Thompson 0-2, Jason Harrington 1-4, Cody Neubauer 2-3, Brian Brown 0-3.
COMETS - Jeff Tibbals 0-4, Patch Wirtzberger 2-3 (2 RBI), Coda Tchida 2-3 (3 RBI), Trent Normandy 1-4 (2 RBI), Jordon Patterson 2-4 (3 RBI), Kaare Engebretson 2-4 (2 RBI), Mike Olson 1-3, Bret Magelssen 2-4 (1 RBI) Eric Fanning 1-2.
2B - Williamson, Wirtzberger, Tchida, Patterson, Engebretson 2,
3B - Cease, Tchida
HR - none
Glasgow Reds 100 010 0 - 2 3 0
Havre Northstars 010 121 X - 5 6 2
Seth Taylor (LP) and Seth Combs; Chazz Hurlburt, Steve Heberly (WP) and Levi Briese.
REDS - Randy Elletson 2-4, Tyler Edwards 0-3, Steve Falcon 1-4, Seth Combs 0-4, Seth Taylor 0-3, Nathan Hopstad 1-2, Jess Mcintyre 0-2, Nate Dorinek 0-3, Michael Southern 0-1, Shawn Warsel 0-1.
NORTHSTARS - Steve Heberly 1-4, Adam Jensen 0-2, Chazz Hurlburt 0-1, Daine Solomon 1-3 (1 RBI), Dusty Heath 1-2, Tyler Thompson 1-3 (1 RBI), Ian Spencer 1-3 (1 RBI), Mark Benjamin 0-2, Cory Junck 0-3, Levi Briese 1-2.
2B - Elletson, Solomon
3B - Heath
HR - none