By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
With perhaps the biggest doubleheader of the season today, the Havre Northstars could have easily overlooked their opponents this past weekend. But head coach Mickey Williams and his Northstars would have none of that. Havre swept a pair of Northern District doubleheaders at Legion Field with a combination of solid pitching and explosive hitting to take home four wins.
The Northstars improved their conference record to 16-4 and 30-14 overall and sit firmly in second place in the standings.
With the crucial twinbill against the third-place Fort MacLeod Royals, who are two games behind Havre with a 16-6 conference record, looming, the Northstars could have come out against a pair of lesser teams, flat and disinterested. But they didn't. Instead, they played with intensity and focus that pleased Williams.
"We played with about as much focus as kids this age can," Williams said. "These were games we were supposed to not only win, but win big and we played hard and did that.
Indeed, on Friday, the Northstars made quick work of the Tri-County Cardinals. The Northstars pounded out 29 runs and 20 hits in the doubleheader, ending both games in five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
But it was the Havre pitching that ended the games quickly as they started. Starting pitchers Brandon Morse and Tyler Thompson allowed just seven total hits in the two games as they both picked up shut outs.
In the opening game, Morse surrendered just three hits while striking out four batters and walking only two. After struggling with control early in the season, Morse appears to have the problems solved.
"Brandon did a good job of not overthrowing and staying within himself," Williams said. "When he does that, he can beat a lot of teams."
Morse had a little help as his teammates scored runs in every inning to put the game out of reach early. RBI doubles from Adam Jensen and Daine Solomon helped give Havre a 4-0 first inning lead. Jensen added another RBI single in the third inning while Tri-County was plagued by wild pitches and passed balls as the Northstars picked up five more runs.
In the nightcap, Thompson was his usual consistent self on the mound. The Northstar starter threw strikes and got ahead as he allowed four hits while striking out five and walking just one.
"Tyler knows what to do to be effective," Williams said. "He knows not to fall behind in the count."
For the second straight game, the Northstars capitalized on a multitude of Cardinal mistakes in a 17-0 win.
"They're a much better team than that," Williams said. "Things went bad and just kind of snowballed."
Havre's bats may have had something to do with the Cardinal problems. The Northstars knocked out 12 hits and scored 15 runs in two innings. They broke the game open in the third inning, scoring eight runs highlighted by an RBI double from Tyson Roe, a two-run single from Dusty Heath and a pair of bases-loaded walks by Tri-County pitchers. The Northstars tacked on another seven runs in the fourth which included a bases-loaded triple from Jensen.
On Sunday, Havre exacted a little revenge against Vauxhall's Darrell Ellis, who one-hit the Northstars earlier in the season in a 10-0 loss. This time Havre stung Ellis for 10 hits in an 8-4 win. The revenge was stlll a little bittersweet for the Northstars because they definitely could have put more runs on the board.
"We left 11 men on base which didn't make me too happy," Williams said. "We should have scored more runs, but we didn't execute our bunts or get hits with runners in scoring position. "
Havre first got to Ellis in the second inning, scoring five runs with the big blow coming from Morse, who stroked a two-run triple. Jensen added an RBI single while Roe and Spencer added RBIs in the inning.
Havre tacked on runs in the fourth and fifth inning, but could have much more as they stranded runners in scoring position.
The problems that plagued the Northstars in the first game were non-existent in the second game. After grabbing a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning, Havre broke open the game in the fifth inning, scoring seven runs and adding another in the sixth to end the game with a 10-0 win.
Ian Spencer continued the Northstars' pitching dominance in the game, pitching all six innings and allowing just three hits while striking out three batters and walking none.
The Northstars were led offensively by Cory Junck, who picked up a pair of hits and drove in four runs. Solomon added three hits and an RBI while Thompson and Heath both had a pair of hits and drove in runs.
Havre will now turn its full attention to the matchup with Fort MacLeod today. With the conference season winding down, the next two weeks will decide the regular season champion and the all-important seeding at the conference tournament.
As of today, the Lethbridge Miners were atop the standings with a 16-2 record. Havre is two games back and within striking distance while Fort MacLeod could overtake both teams.
"These next two weeks are big for us," Williams said. "Realistically, to win the conference, we would have to win these two today and sweep the doubleheader against Lethbridge next week."
A sweep isn't impossible, but Williams said it won't be easy either.
"We can do it, but we just have to play the way we're capable and limit our mistakes," Williams said. "We can get away with making a few mistakes against teams like we played this weekend, but not against teams like Lethbridge and Fort MacLeod."
Game time for tonight's doubleheader is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Legion Field.
Tri-County Cardinals 000 00 - 0 3 3
Havre Northstars 423 3X - 12 8 0
Snyder, Rosenburger (4) and Pyette; Brandon Morse and Adam Jensen. WP - Morse, LP - Snyder.
CARDINALS - Pyette 0-2, Zell 0-3, Alford 1-2, Smith 1-2, Gordon 0-2, Tokerud 0-1, Pinkard 1-2, Rosenburger 0-2, Styren 0-2.
NORTHSTARS - Steve Heberly 1-3, Adam Jensen 2-2 (2 RBI), Daine Solomon 1-4 (RBI), Dusty Heath 1-2, Tyson Roe 0-1, Ian Spencer 1-2 (RBI), Tyler Thompson 0-2, Chazz Hurlburt 1-2, Cory Junck 1-2.
2B - Alford, Jensen, Solomon
3B - Heath
HR - none
Tri-County Cardinals 000 00 - 0 4 3
Havre Northstars 028 7X - 17 12 0
Styren, Rosenburger, Smith and Zell; Tyler Thompson and Adam Jensen. WP - Thompson, LP - Styren
CARDINALS - Pyette 2-3, Zell 0-3, Alford 1-2, Smith 0-2, Gordon 0-2, Pinkard 0-1, Rosenburger 1-2, Gardipee 0-1, Ahrens 0-2.
NORTHSTARS - Steve Heberly 1-2 (3 RBI), Adam Jensen 1-3 (4 RBI), Daine Solomon 2-3 (RBI), Dusty Heath 2-3 (2 RBI), Tyson Roe 2-3 (2 RBI), Chazz Hurlburt 2-3, Cory Junck 2-3 (2 RBI), Brandon Morse 0-2.
2B - Pyette, Solomon, Heberly, Roe, Junck
3B - Jensen
HR - none
Vauxhall Spurs 101 020 0 - 4 6 2
Havre Northstars 150 110 X - 8 10 4
Ellis and Forsyth; Steve Heberly and Adam Jensen. WP - Heberly, LP - Ellis.
SPURS - Munro 1-3, Ellis 1-3, Rhode 2-3, Beckie 1-4 (RBI), Forsyth 0-3, Davis 0-3, Bowman 0-3, Odlund 0-3, Odlund 0-2.
NORTHSTARS - Adam Jensen 2-5 (RBI), Cory Junck 1-2, Daine Solomon 2-4 (RBI), Dusty Heath 1-4 (RBI), Tyson Roe 1-2 (RBI), Ian Spencer 1-2 (RBI), Tyler Thompson 2-4 (RBI), Chazz Hurlburt 0-4, Brandon Morse 1-3 (2 RBI).
2B - Solomon, Heath
3B - Morse
HR - none
Vauxhall Spurs 000 000 - 0 3 4
Havre Northstars 100 171 - 10 12 0
Davis and Forsyth; Ian Spencer and Adam Jensen. WP - Spencer, LP - Davis.
SPURS - Munro 1-3, Ellis 0-3, Rhodes 0-3, Beckie 0-2, Forsyth 1-2, Bowman 1-2, Odlund 0-2, Vilay 0-2, Odlund 0-2.
NORTHSTARS - Steve Heberly 1-4 (RBI), Adam Jensen 0-4, Daine Solomon 3-4 (RBI), Dusty Heath 2-4 (RBI), Tyson Roe 1-2, Tyler Thompson 2-4 (RBI), Mark Benjamin 1-2, Cory Junck 2-3 (4 RBI), Brandon Morse 0-3.
2B - none
3B - Heberly, Heath 2, Junck
HR - none