By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
The Havre Northstars American Legion baseball team is starting to peak as the dog days of summer approach. And nowhere was that fact more evident than at Legion Field in Havre on Wednesday afternoon.
The Northstars pounded the Class A Great Falls Sparkies in a conference doubleheader by scores of 13-1 and 14-6. The outcome of Wednesday's action, as well as the play of his team, has veteran Northstar head coach Mickey Williams feeling very positive as Havre approaches a very tough portion of its schedule.
"The kids all played really well in both games against the Sparkies," Williams said. "We got some very solid pitching out of some kids that don't usually throw a lot and our entire team is hitting the ball really solid right now."
In the first game the Northstars began their eventual rout with a bang as Daine Solomon blasted a three-run home run in the first inning. That sparked a six-run inning that gave Havre a lead it never relinquished.
Havre also tacked on five more runs in the third inning behind consecutive base hits from Steve Heberly, Solomon, Dusty Heath and Tyson Roe. The 11 runs the Northstars put up in the first three innings was more than enough insurance for the combined efforts of starting pitcher Ian Spencer, as well as Heath, who came on in relief of Spencer in the fourth inning. Together the two Havre hurlers allowed just one run while scattering four hits over five complete innings.
Offensively, the Northstars were paced by Solomon, who went 2-3 with a single and a homer as well as four RBIs. Heath also had a pair of hits along with Heberly.
In the second contest the Northstars were again the beneficiaries of two very productive innings. Havre put up five runs in the second inning and another five in the sixth inning to put the Sparkies away and earn the afternoon sweep. The Northstars got more offense from Heberly as he tacked on two more singles in the second outing. Mark Benjamin, Tyler Thompson and Ian Spencer also had two hits each.
On the mound Havre got four solid innings of work from Daine Solomon as he gave up six runs on eight hits while striking out six Sparkies along the way. Chaz Hurlburt then came on for the final two innings to close the book on Great Falls.
"We are really hitting the ball well this last couple of weeks," Williams said. "I think the kids are really starting to get into the swing of things and it showed in the two games against the Sparkies."
While Havre's bats have come alive recently, the team will now have to trade in its aluminum for good old-fashioned wood as it travels to Hamilton for a tournament hosted by the Bitterroot Red Sox. The three-day tournament is a wood bat-only event and Williams is not sure what to expect from his team.
"It has become very popular for teams to put on wood bat tournaments," Williams said. "It should be interesting to see how the kids do because they are going to find out that they are a lot different than the bats they are used to."
Aside from the wood bats, Williams is looking forward to this weekend's round-robin tournament in Hamilton because his team will be going up against some of the best competition in Class A American Legion baseball.
"Both of the Bitterroot teams are very good and Gallatin Valley will also be there so this is a great opportunity to play some of the teams that are going to be state title contenders this year," Williams said. "I am feeling pretty good about our chances this weekend because we are playing really solid baseball going in."
The three-day tournament gets under way on Friday afternoon. The Northstars will open the tournament against Salmon, Idaho at 11:15 a.m. Havre will then face the Bitterroot Bucs at 2:30 p.m.
The Havre Comets will also see tournament action this weekend when they travel to Lewistown for the annual Redbird Invitational. The Lewistown tournament will also begin on Friday and run through Sunday afternoon.