By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre Comets' Northern District Tournament hopes are still alive. The Comets did salvage a split with the Tri-County Cardinals on Wednesday, which only helps their cause. However, they did let a golden opportunity for a sweep slip away.
Havre was staring a victory right in the eye in the first game of the doubleheader, unfortunately the Comets blinked.
The Comets held a commanding 5-0 led with two outs in the bottom of sixth inning. But a dropped pop fly in the outfield opened up the floodgates as the Cardinals scored six unanswered runs off of starter Sean Peterson to take the lead.
"I felt like we had a little letdown," said head coach Andy Smith. "We had the momentum, but we let them back into the game. But it's been the same story all year - one bad inning that costs us the game."
The Comets scrapped back for a run in the seventh as Tyson Anderson and Richard Jarvis singled to get things going. John Christian scored Anderson with a single to right to tie the game at six, but the Havre rally ended there.
Tri-County won the game as Robert Brown singled and later scored on a Jay Pyette base hit in the bottom of the seventh.
Havre's early lead was sparked by a three-run sixth inning in which Christian had an RBI single and Anderson had an RBI double.
Anderson, Christian, Josh Lowe and Josh Morse had two hits each to lead the Comets.
Peterson took the loss for Havre, allowing just one earned run - the game-winning run in the game.
"It was such a emotional loss," Smith said. "It felt like the air had been taken out of us. We were just stunned because we played so well."
But the Comets didn't have time to sit and feel sorry for themselves. Instead, Havre used the first loss as motivation and came out and set the tone early in a 8-1 win.
The Comets exploded for five runs in the first inning and never looked back. Lowe led off the game with a single and later scored on an Austin Small single to left.
Havre then loaded the bases with two outs and Tom Knudson unloaded them with a triple to right-center, scoring all three runs and giving Havre a 5-0 lead.
"That was a big at-bat for Tom," Smith said. "He really clutched up and got a big hit for us."
With an early lead, starter Jess McLain settled into a nice groove on the mound, allowing just one run and two hits in five innings of work.
The Comets added two runs in the fifth as Mike Olson ripped the team's first home run of the season. Olson launched a two-run shot to push the lead to 7-0. Havre tacked on an insurance run in the seventh as Bryden Vukasin singled to center scoring Olson.
McLain pitched the Comets into the fifth inning before giving way to Lowe in relief. Lowe was solid holding the Cardinals to just two hits and no runs in the two innings and securing the win for McLain.
"Jess and Josh really gave us a spark with their pitching," Smith said. "They really haven't pitched a lot of innings this year, but they came out and did an excellent job."
Christian led the Comets offense with four hits and two runs scored. Olson and Vukasin had two hits and two RBIs each.
"It would have been very easy for us to get swept after losing the first game that way," Smith said. "But we came out focused and intense. The first inning really set the tone for the rest of the game. As a whole we played great defense, we only had one error in each game. "
The Comets are still fighting for a spot in the district tournament with their main competition being the Medicine Hat Knights.
"We're tied with Medicine Hat for wins," Smith said. "A sweep would have really helped up, but a split still kept us alive. And that's what we want is to just have a chance. I was proud of the kids for coming back after the loss and competing. We showed a lot of heart."
Tri-County 7, Havre 6
Havre Comets 200 003 1 - 6 10 1
Tri-County Cardinals 000 006 1 - 7 12 2
Sean Peterson and Josh Morse; A. Oien and J. Pyette.
WP - Oien; LP - Peterson.
COMETS HITTING - Josh Lowe 2-4, Jess McLain 1-3, Mike Olson 1-3, Austin Small 1-3 (RBI), Tyson Anderson 2-4 (RBI), Richard Jarvis 1-3,John Christian 2-4 (2 RBI), Josh Morse 2-3, Scott Ladenburg 0-4 (RBI).
CARDINALS HITTING - J. Pyette 4-5, Z. Styren 2-3, C. Smith 1-3, D. Gordon 0-3, J. Roseberger 0-4, R. Christians 1-3, R. Brown 2-4, S. Gardipee 2-4, J. Englehard 1-3.
2B - McLain, Anderson, Pyette 2
3B - none
HR - none
Havre 8, Tri-County 1
Havre Comets 500 020 1 - 8 13 1
Tri-County Cardinals 000 100 0 - 1 4 1
Z. Styren and J. Pyette; Jess McLain (5), Josh Lowe and Mike Olson, Josh Morse.
WP - McLain; LP - Styren.
COMETS HITTING - Josh Lowe 1-4, Jess McLain 0-3, Josh Morse 0-1, Austin Small 1-4 (RBI), John Christian 4-4, Mike Olson 2-4 (2 RBI), Sean Peterson 1-3, Tom Knudson 1-4 (3 RBI), Bryden Vukasin 2-4 (2 RBI), Bill Siebrasse 0-4.
CARDINALS HITTING - J. Pyette 1-4, Z. Styren 0-3, C. Smith 1-3, D. Gordon 0-2, J. Roseberger 1-3, R. Christians 0-2, R. Brown 1-3, S. Gardipee 0-3, J. Englehard 0-3.
2B - Small
3B - Knudson
HR - Olson