Havre Daily News Sports Editor
It was just too many games in too few days for the Havre Northstars. Coming off back-to-back conference doubleheaders, Havre struggled at the Aaron's Class A Invitational baseball tournament in Billings, finishing fourth overall with a 2-4 record.
The Northstars simply ran out of gas, particularly their pitching staff, which was just too overworked, pitching 12 games in five days.
"I didn't put them in a good situation with that many games," said Northstars head coach Mickey Williams. "We played too many games in a short span and we're just not strong enough or deep enough to do that. Our pitchers didn't get enough rest between games to be effective."
A testament to Northstars' fatigue came in their only two wins on the weekend. Havre's only two starters working on regular rest - Chase Castloo and Sean Peterson - picked up the wins. It wasn't just a random coincidence.
"Chase and Sean pitched really well and looked pretty strong," Williams said. "It wasn't that the other kids pitched poorly, but they just didn't have their normal stuff."
Havre opened the tourney on Thursday on a disappointing note with a 6-5 loss to the Billings Blue Jays. The Northstars were feeling generous, committing three costly errors which led to all six of Billings' runs to be unearned.
Tied 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh with runners on first and third, Havre pitcher Scott Ladenburg was called for a balk, forcing the winning run in.
"Scott doesn't have a lot of pitching experience," Williams said. "It's something that he'll definitely learn from. But we didn't lose the game on the balk call. You can't give them six unearned runs and expect to wins."
Havre jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with sacrifice flies from Josh Lowe and Ben Erickson. The pushed the lead to 5-2 on RBI singles from Lowe, Peterson and Castloo. Billings tied the game in the bottom of the sixth with three runs.
Although he Northstars played late into the night on Wednesday against Vauxhall and then got up early on Thursday to make their game in Billings, Williams wouldn't use that as an excuse for the mistakes.
"I'm sure they were tired, but we can't use that for an excuse," Williams said. "Giving up that many unearned runs doesn't just come from fatigue but a lack of concentration."
Lowe and Patch Wirtzberger led the offense with two hits each. John Christian started the game for Havre, going five innings and allowing four hits, but was hurt by seven walks.
Later on Thursday, the Missoula Mavericks roughed up Northstars starter Austin Small for 11 runs and 12 hits in a 11-4 win.
"Missoula swings the bat pretty well," Williams said. "They were really aggressive at the plate. But it was a game that should have been closer."
After falling behind 3-0, the Northstars took a 4-3 lead as Josh Lowe ripped a two-run single, Jeff Tibbals added an RBI triple and Christian had a run-scoring double. But their bats would go quiet after the big innings, with just one hit over the final four innings.
The Mavericks retook the lead in the fifth inning and broke the game open in the sixth, scoring six runs, including a three-run home run by Dan Orr.
Small took the loss, giving up eight earned runs on 12 hits. Christian had two of Havre's five hits. Tibbals, Lowe and Scott Ladenburg accounted for the other three.
Things picked up on Friday as the Northstars earned a crucial 10-1 win over the Lethbridge Miners. Because of a rained out doubleheader earlier this season, the game counted in the conference standings. With the added incentive, Peterson rose to the occasion, pitching a gem. He allowed a run in the top of the first and then shut the Miners down from there. He held Lethbridge to just three hits over the next six innings to get the win. He racked up eight strikeouts in the game and walked just two to pick up his fourth win of the season.
Havre put the game away early, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the second. Lowe, Wirtzberger and Eric Fanning delivered RBI singles, while Josh Morse capped off the inning with a two-run single. Erickson tacked on a few insurance runs with two-run single in the fifth.
Tibbals led Havre with four hits and two runs scored. Erickson added three runs and two RBIs, while Lowe had two hits and two runs scored.
On Saturday morning, the Northstars continued to look sharp with a 7-3 win over the Billings Cardinals, who would go on to win the tournament. Castloo picked up his third straight win on the mound, allowing one earned run on seven hits. He overcame six walks with five strikeouts.
Havre fell behind 2-0 early, but cut the lead in half on Lowe RBI single in the third inning. The Northstars took the lead for good in the fifth. Christian and Fanning had two-run singles and Lowe and Erickson added RBI singles in the six-run inning. Lowe had two hits and two runs batted in to lead Havre.
"We beat the best two teams in the tournament," Williams said. "It shows how important it is to have rested pitchers."
Havre would drop its next two games in disappointing fashion. Anthony Marrajo ripped the game-winning single in the bottom of the eighth inning to pick up a 4-3 win for the Anaconda A's
Havre led much of the game, grabbing a 2-1 lead early on a Peterson RBI single. Havre broke open a 2-2 game in the top of the seventh as Peterson tripled and scored Christian's single to right. However, Anaconda tied the game in the bottom of the seventh off of starter Jeff Tibbals, setting up Marrajo's heroics in the eighth.
Wirtzberger and Peterson had two hits each. Tibbals took the loss, working all eight innings and allowing 10 hits.
"Anaconda played with a lot more emotion than we did," Williams said. "We came out with the attitude that they were just going to lay down for us and they didn't do that."
In the consolation game of the tournament, the Billings Blue Jays roughed up Havre in a 10-2 win. The Blue Jays racked up eight hits off of Erickson and Havre committed three errors that led to three unearned runs.
Tied at 2-2, Billings scored three runs in fourth and five in the fifth to break the game open. Havre managed just four hits in the game.
It was a tough way to end a very long weekend.
"I won't schedule a week like that again," Williams said. "Still, if you lose a game at the state tournament you have to play a lot of games in short amount of time. We basically played back-to-back-to-back doubleheaders. It's tough to do and we didn't stand up to the challenge.
"It's my fault for scheduling a week like this. From what I saw, I really think that if we came down with normal rest, we could come out with six wins."
Havre will hit the road for a doubleheader against Vauxhall today and a doubleheader against Fort MacLeod on Wednesday.
Blue Jays 6, Northstars 5
Havre Northstars 200 111 0 - 5 8 3
Billings Blue Jays 002 003 1 - 6 4 2
John Christian (5), Scott Ladenburg 2; Ketterling and Beach
WP - Ketterling; LP - Ladenburg
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Jeff Tibbals 0-4; Patch Wirtzberger 2-4; Josh Lowe 2-3 (2 RBI); Ben Erickson 2-3 (RBI); Austin Small 2-3 (RBI); Chase Castloo 0-3; Josh Morse 0-3; Bryden Vukasin 0-3; Sean Peterson 1-3 (RBI).
BLUE JAYS HITTING - Vannoy 1-3; M. Edwards 0-2 (RBI); K. Edwards 0-4; Miller 0-1; Hedin 0-4; Beach 0-4; Helmer1-3; Kent 1-3; Ketterling 1-2 (RBI).
2B - none
3B - none
HR - none
Mavericks 11, Northstars 4
Havre Northstars 004 000 0 - 4 5 3
Missoula Mavericks 300 026 0 - 11 12 0
Austin Small and Josh Morse; Mavericks battery unavailable
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Jeff Tibbals 1-4 (RBI); Patch Wirtzberger 0-2; Josh Lowe 1-3 (2 RBI); Ben Erickson 0-2; John Christian 2-3 (RBI); Chase Castlloo 0-3; Josh Morse 0-3; Scott Ladenburg 1-3; Sean Peterson 0-2
MAVERICKS HITTING - not available
2B - Christian, Ladenburg
3B - Tibbals
HR - none
Northstars 10, Miners 1
Lethbridge Miners 100 000 0 - 1 4 3
Havre Northstars 070 120 X - 10 12 1
Dragland (3), Kelly and Barthel; Sean Peterson and Patch Wirtzberger
WP - Peterson; LP - Dragland
MINERS HITTING - Wilson 0-4; Fulkerth 0-2; Kaskiw 0-3; Rokosh 1-3 (RBI); Gerstenbuhler 2-2; Groves 1-3; Bareshinbone 0-3; Kelly 0-3; Barthel 0-3.
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Jeff Tibbals 4-4; Patch Wirtzberger 0-2 (RBI); Josh Lowe 2-4 (RBI); Ben Erickson 3-3 (2 RBI); Austin Small 0-3; John Christian 1-2 (RBI); Josh Morse 1-4 (2 RBI); Eric Fanning 1-4 (RBI); Ladenburg 0-2.
2B - Christian
3B - none
HR - none
Northstars 7, Cardinals 3
Havre Northstars 001 060 0 - 7 7 1
Billings Cardinals 110 010 0 - 3 7 1
Chase Castloo and Patch Wirtzberger; Rogers (4), Reitz and Tevlin
WP - Castloo; LP - Rogers
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Jeff Tibbals 1-3; Patch Wirtzberger 1-2; Josh Lowe 2-4 (2 RBI); Ben Erickson 1-4 (RBI); John Christian 1-4 (2 RBI); Austin Small 0-3; Scott Ladenburg 0-2; Sean Peterson 0-1; Eric Fanning 1-3 (2 RBI); Bryden Vukasin 0-2.
CARDINALS HITTING - Heringer 0-2; Rogers 1-3; Reitz 1-2; Tevlin 2-3 (2 RBI); Bushman 0-4; Lampi 1-3; Chilton 2-3; Grosulak 0-2; Muri 0-3
2B - Chiltn, Lampi
3B - none
HR - none
A's 4, Northstars 3
Havre Northstars 110 000 10 - 3 6 1
Anaconda A's 100 001 11 - 4 10 1
Jeff Tibbals and Josh Morse; Tristin Spehar, Casey Dee (7) and Anthony Marrajo
WP - Dee; LP - Tibbals
NORTHSTARS HITTING - John Christian 1-4 (RBI); Patch Wirtzberger 2-4; Josh Lowe 0-4; Ben Erickson 0-4; Austin Small 0-4; Josh Morse 1-2; Chase Castloo 0-4; Eric Fanning 0-4; Sean Peterson 2-2 (RBI);
A's HITTING - unavailable
2B - Morse
3B - Peterson
HR - none
Blue Jays 10, Northstars 2
Havre Northstars 101 00 - 2 4 3
Billings Blue Jays 020 35 - 10 8 0
Ben Erickson, Patch Wirtzberger and Josh Morse; Kent and Beach
WP - Kent; LP - Erickson
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Jeff Tibbals 1-3; Patch Wirtzberger 2-2; Ben Erickson 1-2 (2 RBI); Josh Morse 0-2; Austin Small 0-2; Chase Castloo 0-2; Scott Ladenburg 0-2; Bryden Vukasin 0-2.
BLUE JAYS HITTING - Vannoy 0-2; M. Edwards 0-2; Scott 2-3 (2 RBI); Hedin 2-3 (2 RBI); Helmer 1-3; K. Edwards 2-2 (3 RBI); Miller 1-2 (2 RBI); Bearch 0-2; Ketterling 0-1 (RBI).
2B - Hedin, Erickson
3B - Miller
HR - none