Havre Daily News Sports Editor
SIDNEY - The Havre Northstars better like baseball a lot, because if they are going to win the Class A state championship, they will be playing plenty of it over the next few days.
The Northstars saw their state championship hopes take a slight hit on Sunday night with a disappointing 11-0 loss to the Gallatin Valley Outlaws in the quarterfinal round of the Montana Class A State American Legion Baseball tournament at Moose Field.
Havre managed just one hit - a Josh Lowe single - in seven innings against Gallatin Valley starting pitcher Shane Thurston. The Northstars managed just five base runners in the game, with only one making it as far as second base.
"I don't care who you are playing or at what level, one hit isn't going to win many games," said Northstars head coach Mickey Williams "(Thurston) didn't throw anything overpowering. We just didn't hit the ball hard at all."
Coupled with the Northstars' complete lack of offense was the slow start by starter Chase Castloo. The Outlaws jumped all over Castloo in their first at-bat, getting two runs in the top of the first. Toby Marx ripped a two-run double off the left-field wall.
They added to the lead an inning later on a two-run single from Kyle Clark and a run-scoring single from Nate Anderson.
"Chase kind of struggled early on with his control," Williams said. "He got behind in the count on some hitters and they are just too good to do that."
The offensive onslaught continued into the third inning. Anderson ripped his second RBI single of the game, while Taylor Blakely added a run-scoring single and another run came across on a fielder's choice.
Down 9-0 after three innings wasn't exactly how Williams had envisioned things going.
"It's partly my fault," he said. "Chase wasn't warmed up enough, which is why he had trouble spotting his pitches. He's the type of person who needs to throw a lot before he goes out there."
After about three innings, Castloo finally settled in and held the Outlaws scoreless for the next three innings.
"Chase really threw well after he got warmed up," Williams said. "But we didn't do anything offensively to get back in the game."
Indeed, Hav-re got its one hit in the fourth inning as Lowe singled through the left side to lead off the inning. But nothing more came from it as Ben Erickson popped up, John Christian grounded out and Austin Small struck out.
Gallatin Valley ended the game early with a pair of sacrifice flies in the top of the seventh, while Thurston shut down the Northstars in the bottom of the seventh to end the game via the 10-run mercy rule.
The game was a stark contrast from Havre's dramatic 5-4 win over Glendive on Saturday
With the game tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the 10th, Ben Erickson drew a bases-loaded walk off Glendive pitcher Jason Erickson to secure the Northstars' first win ofthe tournament.
The inning started with Jeff Tibbals ripping a leadoff double to the right center gap. Williams then called for a sacrifice bunt from Patch Wirtzberger. He bunted the ball perfectly down the third-base line and beat out the throw.
With runners on first and third and nobody out, Glendive chose to intentionally walk Lowe to load the bases and face Ben Erickson. After pushing the count to 3-1, Erickson watched ball four go by to score the game-winning run.
Havre appeared a little nervous early on as starter Sean Peterson gave up three runs in the top of the second. After getting an out, he allowed three straight singles as Glendive went up 1-0. The Northstars could have gotten out of the inning with just one run, but a throwing error by Wirtzberger allowed two runs to score
Havre didn't have much going offensively until the sixth inning. Wirtzberger led off with a single and advanced to second on a Glendive error. Lowe scored him with a single to left to get the Northstars on the board.
However, the big blow would come in another Erickson-Erickson showdown. Ben Erickson ripped a 1-0 fastball from Jason Erickson over the left-field wall for a two-run home run that tied the game at three.
Havre took its first lead of the game an inning later as Eric Fanning was hit by a pitch to start the inning and later scored on a wild pitch to give the Northstars a 4-3 lead.
Glendive tied the game in the top of the ninth as Jason Erickson doubled and later scored on Jordan Burbach's RBI single up the middle. Williams then lifted Peterson for Austin Small, who was able to end the inning without further damage, setting up Erickson's heroics in the 10th.
Havre will return to action today at 4 p.m. when the Northstars play the winner of the Bitterroot Bucs-Billings Cardinals elimination game.