Havre Daily News Sports Editor
The last two games of the Havre Comets' 2005 American Legion baseball season were pretty much a microcosm of all the games before.
After playing perhaps their best game of the season Friday with a 15-5 win over Medicine Hat in loser-out action of the Northern District tournament at Legion, the Comets couldn't replicate that performance a day later and were eliminated from the tourney by the Lethbridge Miners in a disappointing 12-4 loss.
"It's been that way all season," said Comets head coach Andy Smith. "We battled inconsistency. We have a great game and then we show up the next day not ready to play. At this level, you have to play your 'A' game, and we just didn't."
Havre had its "A" game Friday afternoon, upsetting third-seeded Medicine Hat in dominating fashion.
The Comets exploded for six runs in their first at-bat and never looked back, rolling up 14 hits in the game and ending it in seven innings via the 10-run mercy rule.
Jess McLain opened the game with a double to right and moved to second as Anthony Wirtzberger reached on an infield hit. Logan Reichelt plated McLain with a sacrifice fly, while Seth Jensen drove in a run on a squeeze play. However, the big blow came when first baseman Michael Erickson blasted a three-run home run to left to cap off the big inning.
Havre pushed the lead to 12-0 in the third inning. Jeremiah Moog ripped a two-run single and Ryan Callahan and Jensen added RBI singles.
Staked to a big lead, Comet starter Tanner Abdallah made it through the early innings relatively unscathed. He gave up two runs in the third inning on an RBI double from Mackenzie Blezard and a fielder's choice.
The Comets pushed the lead to 15-2 in the fifth, as Callahan had an RBI single and Moog scored on passed ball.
Medicine Hat got a run in the sixth and two in the seventh off reliever Tanner Donovan, but he was able to get out of trouble and secure the 10-run win.
"It was neat to see the kids play so well, especially with the tournament being at home," Smith said. "We finally played at the level that I thought we were capable of playing at."
Abdallah got the win, going five innings and allowing three earned runs on four hits. He also struck out four batters and walked three.
"Tanner Abdallah pitched a really good game for us," Smith said. "He got into a little trouble there in the sixth, but Tanner Donovan came and did a nice job of getting out of the jam."
Offensively, McLain and Moog led the way with three hits each. Wirtzberger, Callahan and Jensen had two hits apiece.
"Our whole team hit the ball," Smith said. "Every player we sent up there hit the ball hard and did something to help contribute to the win. But it wasn't just our hitting, we played pretty well in the field too."
Unfortunately, the overall good play didn't carry over to Saturday's loser-out game with Lethbridge.
Havre didn't have the same type of crispness as it did against Medicine Hat. Still, the Comets had their chance to win.
Lethbridge grabbed a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second off Donovan, who started for the Comets. Havre got on the board in the top of the third, as Richard Jarvis singled and later scored on a Miner error.
Havre trimmed the lead to 4-3 in the top of the fourth when Lethbridge starter Joel Dragland scored Reichelt and Bryan Heath on wild pitches. Down a run, Havre seemed poised to take the lead. However, as has been the case all season, one bad inning would haunt the Comets.
Lethbridge broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth. Donovan got into trouble, surrendering a lead-off single. He then walked four of the next five batters he faced. Kurtis Kaskiw delivered the inning's big hit with a two-run single to center. Smith went to Wirtzberger in relief, but the damage had already been done. The Miners tacked on three more runs in the seventh to stretch their lead.
"That big inning basically cost us the game," Smith said. "What's frustrating is that we had chances to get out of there, giving up just one or two runs. But we couldn't come up with a big play in the field to end the rally. We had some chances, but we just didn't make the plays."
Offensively, Reichelt and Jarvis had two hits each to lead the Comets. Moog, Vigliotti, Cartwright and Callahan each added singles.
"We beat them during the regular season and I really felt that we could do it again," Smith said. "We had a lot of pitching left and we were hitting the ball. But from the first inning we kind of looked a little lackadaisical out there."
Although it was tough for Smith to see his team's season end with a loss, he knows in the long run the entire season was a win for the program.
"We improved every game and we learned from the mistakes that we were making early in the season," he said. "I think they learned about what it takes to compete at this level. It really is a grind playing 50 games, and they saw how important it was to stay focused and compete every inning."
Comets 15, Knights 5
Havre Comets 606 030 0 - 15 14 4
Medicine Hat Knights 002 001 2 - 5 6 3
Tanner Abdallah (5), Tanner Donovan and Ryan Callahan; Katlin Nunweiler (2), Kyle Telke and Brenden Lenz.
WP - Abdallah; LP - Nunweiler.
COMETS HITTING - Jess McLain 3-5; Anthony Wirtzberger 2-6; Logan Reichelt 0-3 (RBI); Jeremiah Moog 3-5 (2 RBI); Bryan Heath 0-3; Ryan Callahan 2-4 (2 RBI); Seth Jensen 2-5 (2 RBI); Michael Erickson 1-3 (3 RBI); Scott Vigliotti 1-3; Spencer Ivers 0-1.
KNIGHTS HITTING - Shawn Shellenberg 0-4; Lee Fruson 2-4 (RBI); Mackenzie Blezard 2-4 (RBI); Tyler Hodges 2-4; Katlin Nunweiler 0-1; Justin Barsness 2-4 (RBI); John Reinbolt 0-1; Brenden Lenz 0-3; Curtis Archer 0-1; Brandon Anhorn 0-2; Kyle Telke 0-3; Cullen Bradshaw 0-1; Dustin Thompson 0-2.
2B - McLain 2, Moog, Blezard, Hodges
3B - none
HR - Erickson
Miners 12, Comets 4
Havre Comets 001 200 001 - 4 8 4
Lethbridge Miners 031 005 30X - 12 15 4
Tanner Donoven (5), Anthony Wirtzberger (1), Seth Jensen and Ryan Callahan; Joel Dragland (8), Adrian Diakow and Matt Weninger.
WP - Dragland; LP - Donoven.
COMETS HITTING - Jess McLain 0-4; Anthony Wirtzberger 0-3; Tanner Donovan 0-2; Jeremiah Moog 1-3; Logan Reichelt 2-2; Bryan Heath 0-4; Ryan Callahan 1-4; Michael Erickson 0-3; Richard Jarvis 2-4; Scott Vigliotti 1-2; Marshall Cartwright 1-2 (RBI); Seth Jensen 0-1; Tanner Abdallah 0-1; Spencer Ivers 0-1.
MINERS HITTING - Jeff Wilson 1-4; Brock Fulkerth 0-3; Kyle Rokosh 2-2 (2 RBI); Kurtis Kaskiw 2-5 (3 RBI); Matt Weninger 2-5; Corey Gerstenbuhler 1-4; Braeden Horon 1-5; Aaron Groves 2-3; Colton Bareshinebone 2-4 (RBI).
2B - Horon
3B - Rokosh
HR - none