By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
Some people use the term "wake-up call," others a "gutcheck." The Havre Comets don't have a particular word to describe it, but something had to change.
Call it a "turning point," because the Comets' fortunes appeared headed in a different direction.
Coming into Saturday's doubleheader in Medicine Hat, the Comets had just one win in the Northern District and were flirting with the possibility of missing out on this year's district tournament in in Lethbridge.
The prospect of missing out on the postseason, offered a little motivation as the Comets swept a key doubleheader against the Medicine Hat Knights that gave their postseason hopes more than a pulse, it gave them a genuine heartbeat.
Havre rode some quality pitching, solid defense and timely hitting to pick up their first doubleheader sweep since the first games of the season.
"I couldn't be happier with the kids," said Comets head coach Andy Smith. "They really came out and played hard right from the start. It was probably some of the best baseball we've played all season."
In the opening game, Havre jumped out to a 3-0 lead early and never looked back in an 11-7 win.
Austin Small drove in a pair of runs with sacrifice flies and Richard Jarvis added an RBI single as the Comets took a 3-0 lead after three innings. Havre added another run in the fifth inning and then exploded for seven runs in the sixth inning.
After a pair of walks to start the inning, Small continued his hot hitting with a two-run single. Jess McLain added another run with a bases-loaded walk. But the big hit of the inning came from John Christian, who ripped a bases-loaded double, scoring all three runs.
"In the past, we've had trouble getting big hits with runners in scoring position," Smith said. "But we really did a nice job of making contact with runners on and hitting the ball hard."
Medicine Hat tried to rally late, scoring two runs in the fifth and two in the seventh off of starter Sean Peterson. But that was all they would get as Peterson and the Comet defense ended the Knights' comeback hopes to secure the Comets second conference win.
Small led Havre with a 1-3 performance and four RBIs. Christian drove in three runs, while Richard Jarvis added a pair of hits, an RBI and scored three runs.
"Sean did a nice job of getting ahead of hitters and throwing strikes," Smith said. "Our defense really stepped up and made some nice plays."
If the Havre pitching and defense was good in the first game, it was even better in the second.
After leading the Comets hitters, Small took his turn on the mound and was brilliant, shutting out the Knights in a 4-0 win.
Havre took a 2-0 lead in the third inning, capitalizing on a pair of lead-off walks and a sacrifice bunt from Jarvis. With runners on second and third, Mike Olson slammed a two-run single to get the Comets on the scoreboard.
The Comets added an insurance run in the sixth as Olson and Christian led off with a singles and were moved into scoring position by a McLain sacrifice bunt. Sean Peterson scored Olson with a sacrifice fly to push the lead to 3-0.
Havre tacked on another run in the seventh as Olson's RBI double scored Tom Knudson.
Olson finished with three hits and three RBIs for the Comets. Jarvis also added a pair of hits for the Comets.
But the day belonged to Small, who was stellar on the mound, getting ahead of hitters early on and keeping them off-balance with a good mixture of pitches.
"Austin pitched great," Smith said. "He threw a lot of strikes and was able to keep them off balance with his curveball. Both of our pitchers did a great job of getting ahead early in the count. That's so important."
"Our defense also did a nice job of helping out our pitchers. We made the routine plays and didn't have any mental mistakes. It was fun to watch."
The Comets return to action on Saturday when they host the Great Falls Stallions in a doubleheader, starting at 3 p.m.
Havre 11, Medicine Hat 4
Havre Comets 102 017 0 - 11 7 1
Medicine Hat Knights 000 020 2 - 4 8 3
Sean Peterson (WP) and Josh Morse.
COMETS HITTING - Josh Morse 1-5, Richard Jarvis 2-5 (RBI), Austin Small 1-3 (4 RBI), Mike OIson 1-4, Sean Peterson 0-1, Jess McLain 1-3 (RBI), Josh Lowe 0-3, John Christian 1-3 (3 RBI), Tom Knudson 0-2, Bryden Vukasin 1-1 (RBI), Scott Ladenburg 0-3.
KNIGHT HITTING - not available
2B - Christian
3B - none
HR - none
Havre 4, Medicine Hat 0
Havre Comets 002 001 1 - 4 8 0
Medicine Hat Knights 000 000 0 - 0 5 3
Austin Small (WP) and Josh Morse.
COMETS HITTING - Josh Morse 0-3, Richard Jarvis 2-3, Mike Olson 3-4 (3 RBI), John Christian 1-4, Jess McLain 1-2, Sean Peterson 0-2 (RBI), Josh Lowe 1-3, Bryden Vukasin 0-3, Tom Knudson 0-1.
KNIGHTS HITTING - not available
2B - Olson
3B - none
HR - none