By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
At least in the scorebook, the Havre Northstars swept the Great Falls Stallions in a doubleheader at Don Olson Memorial Field in Great Falls on Tuesday.
But officially the Northstars got just one win. Because technically, the first game isn't finished.
Huh? The Northstars appeared to grab a 14-4 win in the first game behind home runs from Ian Spencer and Ben Erickson. However, a substitution error by Mickey Williams in the third inning caused the Northstars to bat out of order twice.
Officially, Williams replaced starting pitcher Cory Junck with reliever Brandon Morse in the third inning. Junck then replaced Eric Fanning at second base.
According to the rules governing the designated hitter, Morse should have hit in Fanning's spot and Junck would have replaced designated hitter Chase Castloo in the batting order.
Instead, Castloo batted twice following the change and Junck batted twice in Fanning's spot.
"It was my mistake," Williams said. "When you bring a pitcher in from the bench you don't forfeit the DH unless the pitcher goes to a position. I didn't even think about it when I moved Cory to second. We were wrong."
After arguing with umpires during the game, Great Falls' coaches filed a protest. If it is upheld, the game would have to go back to the top of the fifth inning where Castloo had his first at-bat after Junck had gone to the field.
"There is some still questions about their protest," Williams said. "Obviously, we were wrong, but they didn't notify me that they were launching a protest until after the game. They are supposed to tell me right away. They still have to file a written protest along with $150 to the state."
If Great Fall does all that, Williams is sure the state will uphold the protest, causing a minor distraction for the Northstars.
"Basically, we will have to drive all the way to Great Falls to play three innings," he said. "But with only one open day on our schedule for the remainder of the season, we may just have to forfeit the game altogether."
That would be a shame considering how well the Northstars played. When the batting lineup wasn't being contested and actual baseball was being played, the Northstars played well.
Havre banged out 18 hits, including six extra base hits in what would have been a dominant win.
After falling behind 3-1 in the first two innings, Havre rallied as Erickson ripped a three-run home run to take a 4-3 lead. The Northstars added another run in the fourth on an RBI double from Tony Christian and five in the sixth behind a bases-loaded double from Trent Normandy and a two-run home run from Ian Spencer.
The Northstars hung four more runs on the scoreboard in the seventh, but all the late scoring would be erased with the protest.
Offensively, Jordon Patterson was 44 with three runs scored. Patch Wirtzberger added three hits, while Spencer, Castloo, Erickson and Christian all had two hits each.
Morse would have picked up his sixth win of the season. But the official outcome may have to wait.
"It's disappointing because we played so well in the late innings," Williams said. "It's my fault if we have to lose those runs and play again."
In the nightcap, the Northstars didn't have any lineup problems of the first game, but they also didn't have the offense of the first game as they scrapped out a 4-1 win.
Normandy gutted out his fifth win of the season, despite not having his sharpest stuff of the season. Although he allowed just one run in six innings of work, Normandy didn't have his usual control, walking five batters and hitting another. He gave way to Bret Magelssen in the seventh with a runner on second and one out. Magelssen picked up his first save of the season, getting the final two outs in the win.
"Trent wanted to stay in and normally I'd probably let him," Williams said. "But he wasn't quite as sharp control-wise as usual and he was starting to leave the ball up in the strikezone in the later innings. Bret came in and closed it up for him."
Havre struggled a little against Great Falls lefthander Phil Parrish, who limited the Northstars to just five hits in the game.
"We didn't have the greatest pitch selection in the second game," Williams admitted. "I don't know what it it about lefthanders, but we just don't hit them well. He didn't throw overly hard or blow us away. Maybe it's because we don't see lefthanders very often. For whatever reason, we tend to struggle against them."
One player who didn't struggle was Spencer, who banged out three doubles in the game and scored a pair of runs. Patterson delivered the game's biggest hit with a two-run single in the second inning to give Havre a 2-0 lead. He later scored on Magelssen fielder's choice. Spencer scored the Northstars final run of the game in the third inning on a Stallions error.
"We did what we had to," Williams said. "We didn't hit particularly well in that second game, but I was pleased with our defense. We didn't commit an error in the field and we looked pretty sharp."
The Northstars will return to action on Friday as the travel to Hamilton for the Vester Wilson Wood Bat Tournament. Havre will face defending Class A state champion Bitterroot Red Sox at 7 p.m. Bitterroot has defeated Havre twice this season.
Havre 14, Great Falls 4
(Game under protest)
Havre Northstars 103 105 4 - 14 18 2
Great Falls Stallions 210 001 0 - 4 9 0
Cory Junck (2), Brandon Morse (WP) and Ricky Houim; Kovatch (LP) and Barrow.
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Tony Christian 2-4, Patch Wirtzberger 3-4, Trent Normandy 1-4 (3 RBI), Ian Spencer 2-4 (2 RBI), Chase Castloo 2-4, Ben Erickson 2-4 (3 RBI), Ricky Houim 0-5, Jordon Patterson 4-4, Eric Fanning 0-2, Cory Junck 0-1.
STALLIONS HITTING - Thompson 2-4, Hedstrom 0-3, Barrow 2-3, Murray 1-3, Parrish 2-3, DeBolt 0-4, Coleman 1-3, Garrity 0-2, Griffith 1-3.
2B - Christian 2, Normandy, Patterson, Thompson, Parrish
3B - Parrish
HR - Spencer, Erickson
Havre 4, Great Falls 1
Havre Northstars 031 000 0 - 4 5 0
Great Falls Stallions 000 010 0 - 1 5 1
Trent Normandy (WP), Bret Magelssen (S) and Ricky Houim; Phil Parrish (LP) and John Coleman.
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Tony Christian 0-4, Patch Wirtzberger 0-4, Daine Solomon 0-4, Ian Spencer 3-3, Cory Junck 0-2 (RBI), Ben Erickson 0-3, Jordon Patterson 1-3 (2 RBI), Chase Castloo 0-3, Bret Magelssen 1-3 (RBI).
STALLIONS HITTING - Thompson 0-2, Hedstrom 1-4, Barrow 0-3, Kovatch 2-4, Murray 1-3, DeBolt 0-3, Coleman 1-3, Garrity 0-2, Griffith 0-2.
2B - Spencer 3, Coleman
3B - none
HR - none