By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
Rain delays in Legion baseball can be tough on players. Unlike in the major leagues, it's the players themselves who are out there helping to get the field ready.
And by the time everything is prepared to play, the game can be somewhat anticlimactic because of all the work done to actually get to play.
Maybe Bret Magelssen wasn't doing much work on Wednesday afternoon. The 18-year old pitcher showed little effects of an afternoon spent working on a rain-soaked Legion Field, leading the Havre Northstars to a 10-0 win over the Havre Comets in Northern District baseball action.
Magelssen pitched by far the best game of his legion career, limiting the Comets to just two hits in seven innings of work while striking out five batters and walking just two.
"Bret pitched a great game for us," said Northstars head coach Mickey Williams. "He did everything we want our pitchers to do. He got ahead of batters, kept the ball low and did a nice job of changing speeds."
Indeed, the lanky righthander only got to three balls on four hitters. He consistently got ahead in the count and was able to throw his curveball for strikes. But his most effective pitch was a sinking fastball that induced the Comets into a plethora of groundballs.
Magelssen recorded 13 groundball outs and had just three balls hit into the outfield.
"Our defense was very solid tonight," Williams said. "Bret was getting them to put the ball in play and we made every play in the field. It's easy to pitch when your defense is making plays, and it's easy to play defense when you're pitcher is throwing strikes."
Magelssen found himself in trouble only twice in the game. After getting two quick outs in the top of the fourth, he issued his second walk of the game to Mike Olson, and Tyson Anderson followed it up with a single to center, giving the Comets runners on first and third .
But Magelssen got out of the jam by striking out John Christian to end the threat.
The Comets never got a runner to third base again in the game. In the top of the seventh, Anderson got his second single of the game and advanced to second on a passed ball. But Magelssen kept his shutout intact, getting Christian to line out hard to shortstop Trent Normandy. He then threw his best pitch of the day, striking out Billy Siebrasse looking with a full count to end the inning.
While Magelssen was busy quieting the Comet bats, the Northstars offense appeared to have a bit of a wake up call, spurred on by some timely hitting and some very aggressive baserunning.
The Northstars grabbed a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning as Patch Wirtzberger led off with a single off of starter Austin Small, and later scored on Ian Spencer's deep triple to the right-center gap. Ricky Houim plated Spencer with a sacrifice fly.
Havre added two more runs in the the third by taking advantage of the Comets' youth. With Wirtzberger on third after a lead-off double and Spencer on first after a single up the middle, Hoium hit a towering pop up in foul territory behind home plate. Comet catcher Josh Morse made a nifty catch near the backstop.
But Spencer was tagging on the play from first and induced a throw to second from Morse. Wirtzberger scooted home and Spencer was safe at second as the throw was cut off in an attempt to get Wirtzberger at home. Spencer later scored to give the Northstars a 4-0 lead.
"That was just a heads up play by Ian," Williams said. "We always tell our runners that anytime a ball is popped up in foul territory to get back to the bag and tag up with the possibility to advance. It was the type of play we expect from our veterans."
The Northstars broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth, scoring four runs on pair of hits. Ben Erickson lashed a double to the right-center gap, scoring Tony Christian. After Daine Solomon reached on an error, Cory Junck made his first game back from college count, driving a single through the left side, scoring Erickson and Solomon to give the Northstars an 8-0 lead.
The Northstars ended the game in the bottom of the seventh, taking advantage of Comet reliever Richard Jarvis. Houim drew a lead-off walk and scored on a double steal with Jordon Patterson. Tony Christian added a sacrifice fly and Junck ended the game with a long shot to left, which scored Erickson to invoke the 10-run mercy rule.
"We did a good job of getting hits with runners on," Williams said. "I don't think we left many runners on base in the game."
They sure didn't. The Northstars left just two runners on base in the game. Part of their success was due to some aggressive baserunning when they did reach base. The Northstars stole nine bases in the game and were able to get runners in scoring position without having to sacrifice outs.
"We need to be that aggressive all the time," Williams said. "We're not a real power-hitting team so getting those extra bases really helps."
Small took the loss for the Comets going six innings allowing seven runs - five earned - and surrendering seven hits while striking out five.
The Comets' only hits came from Anderson, who finished 2-2.
"We played well at times tonight," said Comets head coach Andy Smith. "But for us to compete with teams like the Northstars, we can't make some of the mistakes we made."
The Northstars got two hits from Wirtzberger, Spencer and Junck, who also had three RBIs.
The Northstars return to action on Friday in a home nonconference doubleheader against the Great Falls Stallions A squad. The game had originally been scheduled with the Stallions AA team, but Great Falls backed out, deciding to send the younger squad.
The Comets will be in action on Saturday, taking on the Medicine Hat Knights in a conference doubleheader starting at 3 p.m. On Sunday, the Northstars will face the Knights at 1 p.m. also in a doubleheader.
Northstars 10, Comets 0
Havre Comets 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 2 1
Havre Northstars 2 0 2 0 0 3 3 - 10 9 1
Austin Small (LP), Richard Jarvis () and Josh Morse; Bret Magelssen (WP) and Ricky Houim.
COMETS HITTING - Josh Lowe 0-3, Richard Jarvis 0-3, Austin Small 0-3, Mike Olson 0-2, Tyson Anderson 2-2, John Christian 0-3, Billy Siebrasse 0-3, Josh Morse 0-2, Bryden Vukasin 0-2.
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Patch Wirtzberger 2-4, Trent Normandy 1-4, Ian Spencer 2-3 (RBI), Ricky Houim 0-2 (2 RBI), Jordon Patterson 0-1, Brandon Morse 1-2, Eric Fanning 0-2, Tony Christian 0-0, Ben Erickson 1-2 (RBI), Chase Castloo 0-2, Daine Solomon 0-1, Cory Junck 2-4 (3 RBI)
2B - Erickson, Junck
3B - Spencer
HR - none