Havre Daily News Sports Editor
The Havre Northstars showed a bit of resiliency this past weekend at the annual Luzenac Memorial Baseball Tournament in Three Forks.
After dropping their opening two games of the tourney in heartbreaking fashion, the Northstars rebounded and finished out the tournament with three straight wins.
"I was pretty pleased with the way we played this weekend," said Northstars head coach Mickey Williams. "We lost a couple tough games early on, but the kids hung in there and really competed after that."
On Friday, Havre opened with the rival Bitterroot Red Sox. After losing to the Northstars at the Havre Baseball Jamboree, Bitterroot got a little revenge by winning a wild 19-18 game.
"The wind was blowing out and it really worked in favor of the hitters," Williams said.
Havre jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first inning. Jeff Tibbals ripped a two-run double and Josh Morse and Patch Wirtzberger each added an RBI double to highlight the inning. Ben Erickson and Austin Small chipped in with RBI singles.
Bitterroot pecked away at the lead, scoring three runs off Northstar Chase Castloo in the bottom of the first and another run in the second.
Havre added two more runs in the second on a two-run single from Eric Fanning, while Wirtzberger manufactured a run in the third to push the lead to 11-4. The lead ballooned to 13-4 in the fourth. Bryden Vukasin drove in a run with fielder's choice and Erickson scored on an error.
However, Bitterroot erased the nine-run lead in the next two innings, scoring four runs in the fourth and five runs in the fifth to tie the game at 13.
Havre seemed to put the game away in the top of the sixth, scoring five runs. Erickson lashed a bases-loaded triple scoring three runs, while two more runs scored on errors.
But the Red Sox would not go away. They got two runs in the sixth and took the lead for good in the bottom of the seventh. Loran Carasell ripped a two-run single, while James Wood added an RBI single. Jordan Mousley ended the game, scoring Chase Laine on a hard ground ball to end the game.
"It was really just one of those games where whoever batted last was going to win," Williams said. "They're a good hitting team, but I was pleased with how we hit the ball."
Havre finished with 17 hits on the night, led by Erickson, who broke out of a minor slump with a team-high three hits. Jeff Tibbals also had three hits and two RBIs. Wirtzberger, Peterson, Small and Morse added two hits each.
"It's good to see Ben start hitting again," Williams said. "He was struggling there for awhile. He was getting behind in counts and always having to hit with two strikes. But he was more aggressive and really hit the ball hard this weekend."
Things wouldn't get any easier for the Northstars later in the night when they had to face the host Gallatin Valley Outlaws, who had defeated the Northstars at the Jamboree.
Unfortunately, Havre would suffer the same fate. Outlaw shortstop Nate Anderson slapped a game-winning single through the left side in the bottom of the seventh to give Gallatin Valley a 4-3 win.
Trailing 1-0, Havre tied the game in the fourth inning on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by John Christian, which scored Sean Peterson. Havre took a brief lead an inning later as Peterson also executed a squeeze to score Lowe. Gallatin Valley retook the lead in the fifth on a two-run single from Toby Marx.
Havre tied the game in the sixth. Josh Lowe drove in the tying run with a single up the middle. However, Gallatin Valley played solid defense in the final two innings to keep the game tied, setting up Anderson's heroics.
"It was a good game," Williams said. "They made a couple of nice defensive plays at key moments that cost us some runs."
Peterson took the loss on the mound, going all seven and allowing just three earned runs on 10 hits.
Offensively, Havre got two hits from Lowe, while Tibbals, Wirtzberger, Peterson, Erickson, Small and Scott Ladenburg had hits.
The Northstars rebounded Saturday morning, cruising to a 10-0 win over a team from Smithfield, Utah.
Havre broke open the game with six runs in the second inning. Fanning had an RBI single, while Tibbals and Wirtzberger had back-to-back two-run doubles.
Havre continued to pad the lead. Lowe had RBI single the fourth, Morse ripped an run-scoring double in the fifth and Tibbals and Vukasin added RBI singles in the seventh for the win.
Erickson picked up the win on the mound, going the distance and allowing just four hits, while striking out four batters.
Wirtzberger had three hits and two RBIs, while Tibbals had two hits and drove in three runs to lead Havre. Peterson, Vukasin and Fanning had two hits each.
The Northstars followed that up with a 6-3 win over the Butte Muckers later in the day.
Havre used a four-run first inning to grab an early lead and never look back. Wirtzberger, Lowe, Peterson and Morse all had RBI singles in the inning. The Northstars got two more runs in the fourth. Tibbals led off with a double and later scored on an error. Erickson added an RBI single.
Christian and Tibbals split the pitching duties, each going three innings. Christian allowed two hits and struck out four to get the win. Tibbals allowed three runs, one of which was earned, to get the save.
Tibbals, Morse, Wirtzberger, Fanning and Peterson all had two hits each.
Havre wrapped up the tournament on Sunday with a solid 2-0 win over the defending Class A State Champion Glendive Blue Devils. It is the second time the Northstars have beaten Glendive this season.
Fanning led the way, getting the Northstars on the board with an RBI single to right in the fourth inning. Erickson added a little insurance with an RBI single in the fifth.
The two runs would be more than enough for Small, who was dominant on the mound, allowing just two hits and striking out four batters to pick up his team-high seventh win of the season.
"Austin pitched a nice game for us," Williams said. "He got ahead of hitters and kept them off balance. He's been pitching very well lately."
Fanning led Havre with two hits, while Wirtzberger, Lowe and Erickson all had hits.
"I was happy with how the kids stayed focused," Williams said. "After losing the first two like that, it would have been easy for them to kind of mail it in, but they didn't do that. They came back and played harder."
The Northstars return to action on Wednesday when they host the Great Falls Sparkies at 3 p.m. at Legion Field.
Red Sox 19, Northstars 18
Havre Northstars 821 205 0 - 18 17 6
Bitterroot Red Sox 310 452 4 - 19 18 5
Chase Castloo (5), Scott Ladenburg (1), John Christian and Patch Wirtzberger; Dan Eccles and Patrick McKay.
WP - Eccles; LP - Christian.
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Jeff Tibbals 3-5 (2 RBI); Patch Wirtzberger 2-4 (RBI); Josh Lowe 1-5; Sean Peterson 2-5; Ben Erickson 3-4 (4 RBI); Austin Small 2-5 (RBI); Josh Morse 2-3 (RBI); Eric Fanning 1-5 (2 RBI); Bryden Vukasin 1-4 (RBI).
RED SOX HITTING - James Wood 2-3 (RBI); Jordan Mousley 4-6 (4 RBI); Jesse Gardner 0-2; Zach Henneger 0-3; Brett Henry 3-3 (3 RBI); Dan Eccles 2-4 (3 RBI); Tyler Gillespie 0-4; Patrick McKay 3-4; Loran Carasella 1-4 (2 RBI); Chase Laine 3-5 (RBI).
2B - Tibbals, Peterson, Wirtzberger, Morse, Henry, McKay, Laine, Mousley
3B - Erickson, Mousley, Henry,
HR - none
Outlaws 4, Northstars 3
Havre Northstars 000 111 0 - 3 8 1
Gallatin Valley Outlaws 100 020 1 - 4 10 3
Sean Peterson and Patch Wirtzberger; Patrick Sinnema and Keith Frost.
WP - Sinnema; LP - Peterson.
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Jeff Tibbals 1-4; Patch Wirtzberger 1-3; Josh Lowe 2-3 (RBI); Chase Castloo 0-4; Sean Peterson 1-3 (RBI); Ben Erickson 1-4; Austin Small 1-3; John Christian 0-2 (RBI); Scott Ladenburg 1-2.
OUTLAWS HITTING - Kyle Clark 3-4; Thomas Boyce 1-3; Nate Anderson 2-4 (RBI); Toby Marx 2-3 (3 RBI); Shane Thurston 2-3; Taylor Blakely 0-3; Keith Frost 0-3; Patrick Sinnema 0-3.
2B - Marx
3B - none
HR - none
Northstars 10, Utah 0
Havre Northstars 060 110 2 - 10 15 0
Smithfield, Utah 000 000 0 - 0 4 2
Ben Erickson and Josh Morse; Higham and Johnson.
WP - Erickson; LP - Higham.
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Jeff Tibbals 2-4 (3 RBI); Patch Wirtzberger 3-4 (2 RBI); Josh Lowe 1-3 (RBI); Austin Small 0-2; Ben Erickson 1-4; Chase Castloo 1-4; Sean Peterson 2-4; Josh Morse 1-4 (RBI); Eric Fanning 2-4 (RBI); Bryden Vukasin 2-3 (RBI).
SMITHFIELD HITTING - Carlen 0-1; Nelson 1-2; Peterson 0-3; Johnson 1-3; Hansen 1-3; Jardine 1-3; Higham 0-3; Christenson 0-2; Barr 0-2; Israleson 0-2.
2B - Tibbals, Erickson, Morse
3B - none
HR - none
Northstar 6, Muckers 3
Butte Muckers 000 102 - 3 6 1
Havre Northstars 400 20X - 6 12 3
Mortenson (3), Tracy and Sullivan; John Christian (3), Jeff Tibbals and Patch Wirtzberger.
WP - Christian; LP - Mortenson.
MUCKERS HITTING - Andreas 1-3; McCloskey 1-3; Sullivan 0-3; Dennehy 1-2; Doherty 1-1; Clary 2-3 (2 RBI); Gilder 0-2; Franklin 0-1; Kramer 0-3; Cunningham 0-2.
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Jeff Tibbals 2-4; Patch Wirtzberger 2-3 (RBI); Josh Lowe 1-1 (RBI); Ben Erickson 1-2 (RBI); Sean Peterson 2-3 (RBI); Austin Small 0-3; Josh Morse 2-2 (RBI); John Christian 0-1; Eric Fanning 2-3; Scott Ladenburg 0-3.
2B - Lowe, Tibbals 2
3B - none
HR - none
Northstars 2, Blue Devils 0
Glendive Blue Devils 000 000 0 - 0 2 2
Havre Northstars 000 110 X - 2 5 2
Jason Erickson and Colin Radakovich; Austin Small and Patch Wirtzberger.
WP - Small; LP - Erickson.
BLUE DEVILS HITTING - Robbie Radakovich 1-3; Jordan Burback 0-2; Joe Bakken 0-3; Colin Radakovich 0-3; Andy Odenbach 0-2; Jason Erickson 1-3; Evan Miller 0-2; Logan Meiers 0-2; Brad Harrison 0-2.
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Jeff Tibbals 0-3; Patch Wirtzberger 1-3; Josh Lowe 1-3; Ben Erickson 1-2 (RBI); Sean Peterson 0-2; Chase Castloo 0-2; Josh Morse 0-2; Eric Fanning 2-2 (RBI); John Christian 0-2.
2B - Lowe
3B - none
HR - none