By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
The Havre Northstars won in the conventional way in the first game, and pulled off a little magic in the second game in a doubleheader sweep of the always tough Lethbridge Miners Tuesday at Legion Field.
Magic, with a little bit of help from the Miners.
Trailing 4-1 in their final at-bat of game 2, the Northstars were staring their first Northern District loss in the face. But it was the Miners who blinked.
Ricky Houim opened the inning by reaching on passed ball third strike and Tony Christian also got on base on a misplayed fly ball by Lethbridge leftfielder Brent Wirzba off of Lethbridge starter Tyler Tamayose.
Havre took advantage of the free baserunners as Patch Wirtzberger laced a single up the middle scoring Houim. Christian was, however, thrown out trying to advance to third.
The Northstars weren't through. Daine Solomon singled through the left side, setting up runners on first and second for Trent Normandy, who has shown a penchant for late-game heroics on several occasions this season.
And he came through again. Normandy ripped a shot to the right-center gap scoring Wirtzberger with ease. Solomon, who was right on Wirtzberger's heels, scooted home when Lethbridge mishandled the cut-off throw.
When Lethbridge finally got the ball, shortstop Joshua Day Chief fired it home well above catcher Mike Trautman's head and off the backstop. Trautman was apparently confused as to the score of the game and didn't run after the ball immediately. Normandy, seeing the confusion, raced home and dove in just ahead of the ball for the win.
"That's not exactly how you want to draw it up," said Northstars manager Mickey Williams. "Obviously, they helped us out a little with the passed ball on a strikeout and the errors in the field. But our kids did a nice job of not giving up and putting the ball in play in that last inning. Sometimes a little luck can help you out."
It was even more surprising considering the Northstars weren't having much luck against Tamayose in the first six innings. Havre managed just one run - coming on a Christian RBI single - in the first six innings. Tamayose held Havre to just four hit in that span. The Northstars did have a couple of scoring threats early, but some baserunning mistakes hurt those chances.
"I think we came out a little flat in the second game," Williams said. "I think after we won so easy in the first game the kids thought Lethbridge would just roll over for us in the second game. But they're a good team and they came out ready to play in the second game."
Indeed, the Miners grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first inning, ringing up three singles and a lost ball in the sun to get on the scoreboard first off of starter Ian Spencer.
Spencer settled in after the rough start to hold the Miners scoreless until two outs left in fifth inning when he was lifted for Bret Magelssen.
"Ian left a couple a pitches up in the strike zone in that first inning and Lethbridge has good enough hitters to hurt you," Williams said. "After that, he really kept the ball low."
Magelssen, also a master at keeping the ball low in the zone, worked 2 1/3 innings of hitless baseball to pick up the win.
"Bret came in and threw strikes which is what we needed," Williams said. "After kind of a shaky start, our defense really played well."
Normandy, Wirtzberger and Christian all picked up two hits each to lead the Northstars.
In the first game, the only magic the Northstars needed to rely on was in Brandon Morse's right arm. The Northstars ace pitched near perfect baseball in a dominating 10-0 win.
Morse allowed just two hits - a short pop fly that Normandy lost in the blinding sun and a soft infield single - in six innings of work. He simply dominated Lethbridge hitters, striking out six batters and facing more than three hitters in an inning just once. With the exception of the first hit of the game, the Miners didn't hit a single ball out of the infield on Morse and the two runners never made it past second base.
"Brandon was very sharp," Williams said. "He got ahead early in the count with his fastball and he was able to throw his curveball for strikes. He kept them off-balance and was very focused on what he wanted to do out there."
The Northstars offense was equally as dominant, cranking out 15 hits and scoring 10 runs to end the game in six innings.
Havre got on the board early as Solomon, Spencer, Normandy and Houim all picked up RBI singles in the first inning to take a 4-0 lead.
After a two inning reprieve, the Northstars got going again in the fourth as Christian, Solomon and Spencer all had run-scoring singles.
Havre added another run in the fifth as Jeff Tibbals doubled to lead off the inning and later scored on a Hoium base-hit. The Northstars ended the game in the sixth as Wirtzberger led off with a single and later scored on Spencer's third hit of the game."
"That's the type of hitting I expect from our team," Williams said. "We were very aggressive all game. We worked the count and got fastballs to hits and we hit them hard."
Solomon had four hits and two RBIs to lead the Havre offense. Spencer and Houim added three hits and two RBIs each.
The Northstar defense was very sharp, committing just one error in two games.
"We're starting to play at the level we need to be for the state tournament," Williams said. "The kids are starting to learn what it takes for us to beat good teams. They just have to remember they have to play that way every inning."
The Northstars return to action today as they head to Great Falls to face the Great Falls Stallions AA squad at 1 p.m.
Havre 10, Lethbridge 0
Lethbridge Miners 000 000 - 0 1 0
Havre Northstars 400 321 - 10 15 0
Kellon Kristjanson (LP), Kurtis Kaskin (6) and Tyler Tamayose; Brandon Morse (7) and Ricky Houim.
MINERS HITTING - Tyler Aiken 1-3, Kellon Kristjanson 0-2, Tyler Tamayose 0-2, Jared Hirsche 0-2, Mike Trautman 1-2, Brent Wirzba 0-2, Joshua Day Chief 0-2, Mason Zemp 0-2, Jeff Wilson 0-2.
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Tony Christian 1-4 (RBI), Patch Wirtzberger 1-3, Daine Solomon 4-4 (2 RBI), Ian Spencer 3-4 (2 RBI), Trent Normandy 1-3 (RBI), Jeff Tibbals 1-2, Cory Junck 0-3, Ricky Houim 3-3 (2 RBI), Jordon Patterson 1-2 (RBI)
2B - Tibbals
3B - none
HR - none
Havre 5, Lethbridge 4
Lethbridge Miners 301 000 0 - 4 6 2
Havre Northstars 010 000 4 - 5 7 1
Tyler Tamayose (LP) and Mike Trautman; Ian Spencer (5), Bret Magelssen (WP) and Patch Wirtzberger, Ricky Houim.
MINERS HITTING - Tyler Aiken 1-4, Kellon Kristjanson 1-4, Brent Wirzba 1-4, Tyler Tamayose 1-2, Jared Hirsche 0-3, Mike Trautman 2-3, Joshua Day Chief 0-3, Kurtis Kaskin 0-2, Jeff Wilson 0-1.
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Tony Christian 2-4 (RBI), Patch Wirtzberger 2-3 (RBI), Daine Solomon 1-3, Trent Normandy 2-4 (2 RBI), Jeff Tibbals 0-3, Cory Junck 0-2, Ben Erickson 0-2, Jordon Patterson 1-3, Chase Castloo 0-1, Ricky Houim 0-1.
2B - Kristjanson, Christian
3B - Normandy
HR - none