Havre Daily News Sports Editor
Ben Erickson and the Havre Northstars only got to play one game this weekend, but they made the most of it.
Erickson was simply unhittable on Sunday at Legion Field, shutting down and shutting out the Fort MacLeod Royals with a masterful no-hit performance in a 10-0 six-inning win for the Northstars.
Because of incessant rain on Friday and Saturday, the Northstars postponed Friday's doubleheader with the Lethbridge Miners and split their scheduled doubleheader Sunday with the Comets, so each team could play at least one conference game over the weekend.
"We wanted each team to get a game in this weekend," said Northstars head coach Mickey Williams. "We're getting into the busy part of our schedule and it can get tough to get in makeup games. It was better if both teams got at least one game against Fort MacLeod."
With only one chance to play, Erickson came up with the best pitching performance of his career. The second-year starter dominated from the opening pitch, striking out the first two batters of the game. He had a perfect game going until the third inning when he walked Aider Wilson. But he stranded him immediately, getting a ground ball out and soft pop-up to first.
The Northstars got going offensively in the bottom of the third. Josh Morse drew a lead-off walk and later scored on a Fort MacLeod throwing error. Erickson helped his own cause ripping an RBI single. He later scored on John Christian's RBI double down the left field line to push the lead to 3-0.
Erickson cruised through the fourth and fifth, striking out five of the seven batters he faced. But he did work himself into trouble in the sixth, walking the lead-off batter. After getting a pair of outs, Erickson hit Steve Wilson and walked Greg Gibos to load the bases. However, he came up with a big strikeout of Travis VanDriesten to preserve the no-hitter.
"I don't know if Ben lost focus for a little bit there, but he got himself into a little jam," Williams said. "But he really bear down when he needed to get a big out."
In the bottom half of the inning, his teammates secured the no-hitter, scoring six runs to push the lead to 10-0, invoking the 10-run mercy rule. Havre took advantage of four Fort MacLeod errors and got a two-run single from Sean Peterson and an RBI single from Richard Jarvis. Bryden Vukasin chipped in with a bases loaded walk.
"We didn't hit the ball as hard as I thought we would, especially coming off a wood bat tournament," Williams said. "But we put the ball in play and ran the bases hard. With the way Ben was pitching, we didn't need a whole lot of runs."
Erickson finished with nine strikeouts, while walking three and hitting one batter.
"Ben pitched about as well as you could ask for," Williams said. "Except for that one inning, he did a good job of getting ahead and throwing strikes early in the count. When he does that, he is able to throw his curveball more and is very tough."
Havre's defense was also solid behind him, committing just one error and playing crisply in the field.
"Defensively, we were pretty good," Williams said "We've got enough games in now where we shouldn't be making many errors or mental mistakes. Our defense has been pretty consistent the last few weeks."
Offensively, Erickson helped his own cause with two hits and two RBIs. Peterson was 2-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
The Northstars will face the Great Falls Stallions on Wednesday and then play four games in their Baseball Jamboree.
"We are getting to a very tough part of our schedule where we play some good teams," Williams said. "We need to continue to raise our level of play."
In the nightcap, the Comets didn't hold the Royals hitless, but starter Logan Reichelt came close, instead settling for holding MacLeod scoreless in a 10-0 win.
Reichelt held the Royals to two hits - a pair of singles - to lead the Comets to their second Northern District conference win on the season.
Havre jumped out to an early 5-0 lead after two innings. Bryan Heath lashed a two-run double over the left fielders' glove in the first inning, while Tanner Donovan ripped a two-run triple to left and Reichelt had a run-scoring single in the second inning.
With an early cushion, Reichelt settled in. He worked out of a bit of a jam in the second, stranding a runner at third. He allowed his second hit of the game in the third, but got a big strikeout and a pop up to second to escape trouble. From there, he cruised, striking out three of the final six batters he face.
The Comets pushed the lead to 7-0 in the fourth inning. Anthony Wirtzberger singled, stole second and third and later scored on a MacLeod error. Donovan drew a walk and worked his way around the bases, finally scoring on a balk call on Royal pitcher Patrick Burles.
In the fifth inning, Havre took advantage of MacLeod's pitching inexperience, scoring three runs off wild pitches and passed balls to end the game in five.
Besides getting the shut out, Reichelt struck out six batters and didn't walk a batter. He helped himself with a pair of hits, an RBI and two runs scored. Wirtzberger picked up two hits and scored three runs, while Donovan also scored three runs.
The Comets will be in action Tuesday when they travel to Great Falls for a conference doubleheader with the Great Falls Stallions at 3 p.m.
Northstars 10, Royals 0
Fort MacLeod Royals 000 000 - 0 0 6
Havre Northstars 003 016 - 10 8 1
Greg Gibos (4), Josh Kutcher (1), Steve Wilson (1) and Wilson and Kutcher; Ben Erickson and Josh Morse.
WP - Erickson; LP - Gibos.
ROYALS HITTING - Josh Kutcher 0-3; Dave Brauer 0-3; Steve Wilson 0-2; Greg Gibos 0-2; Travis VanDriesten 0-2; Sean Appelhoff 0-2; Lorne Burles 0-2; Aider Wilson 0-1; Patrick Burles 0-1; Shaun MacKenzie 0-0.
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Jeff Tibbals 0-2; Sean Peterson 2-3 (2 RBI); Austin Small 0-3; Ben Erickson 2-4 (2 RBI); John Christian 1-3 (RBI); Scott Ladenburg 1-2; Josh Lowe 0-1; Eric Fanning 0-2; Josh Morse 0-1; Bryden Vukasin 1-1 (RBI); Chase Castloo 0-2; Richard Jarvis 1-1 (RBI).
2B - Christian
3B - none
HR - none
Comets 10, Royals 0
Fort MacLeod Royals 000 00 - 0 2 1
Havre Comets 230 23 - 10 7 0
Aider Wilson (2), Patrick Burles (2), Travis VanDriesten (1) and Sean Appelhoff; Logan Reichelt and Bryan Heath
WP - Reichelt; LP - Wilson.
ROYALS HITTING - Josh Kutcher 1-2; Davey Brauer 0-2; Steve Wilson 0-1; Greg Gibos 0-2; Travis VanDriesten 1-2; Sean Appelhoff 0-2; Aider Wilson, Wyatt Gail 0-2; Shaun Mackenzie 0-2; Patrick Burles 0-1.
COMETS HITTING - Logan Reichelt 2-4 (RBI); Anthony Wirtzberger 2-3; Tanner Donovan 1-1 (2 RBI); Bryan Heath 1-1 (2 RBI); Jeremiah Moog 0-3; Marshall Cartwright 0-2; Mike Erickson 0-0; Tanner Abdallah 0-3; Scott Vigliotti 0-2; Seth Jensen 1-1; Ryan Callahan 0-1.
2B - Heath
3B - Donovan
HR - none