by Ryan Divish
Havre Daily News Sports Editor
Major League Baseball may still be in the midst of its all-star break, but baseball fans in Havre need only go to Legion Field to get their baseball fix.
For the next five days, Legion Field will host 27 games divided among 10 teams as the 2005 Montana Babe Ruth Baseball 14-15-year-old State Tournament takes over Havre.
The tournament opened play today at noon with Glacier facing South Valley. But the marquee game will come tonight at 8 p.m., when the host Havre All-Stars will take to the field against Glacier.
Havre head coach Dana Roe thinks his team will be fired up to have the home field advantage as well as playing in front of family and friends.
"I think the kids are excited about playing at home, especially if we get a lot of Havre people to come out and support them," Roe said. "Playing in front of a big crowd would definitely be exciting for them."
Roe will start his son, Todd, tonight on the mound for the All-Stars. Todd Roe helped pitch his league team, Wells Fargo, to the city Babe Ruth championship with a 15-strikeout performance in the title game.
Jeremy Jensen, who lost the pitcher's duel with Roe in the championship game, is another key starting pitcher for the All-Stars. Joining them in the rotation will be Andrew Linquist and Josh Haas. Those four will share the bulk of the pitching duties for the tournament
"Hopefully that's enough," Roe said. "We have other kids that can come in and give us an inning or two, but those four will be our starters."
Pitching will be a key for every team this weekend because the tournament is a slightly different format than most state tournaments.
Instead of going with the traditional double-elimination tourney, this weekend will be a round robin tournament for the first three and half days. After that, the teams will be seeded into a single elimination tournament.
"I kind of like this format," Roe said. "You are guaranteed at least four games and everybody gets to play a lot. In a double elimination tourney, you can falter twice and be done."
In this format, losing a game or even two doesn't mean you are completely unable to win the state title.
"It doesn't place so much emphasis on winning every game," Roe said. "You can have a bad game and lose and still come back."
The round robin format won't change Roe's approach much. He still wants his team to win every game in pool play and get the top seed in its pool.
"You definitely don't want to save anything or anybody," he said. "We want to go out play to win in every game like it was a double elimination."
With so many games, Roe believes his team's hitting and defense will have to carry through.
Offensively, Havre is coming off a four-game weekend that saw the All-Stars put up plenty of runs. Linquist, Haas and Taylor Ita were all solid at the plate, according to Roe
"All of the kids really hit the ball hard," he said. "We hit it well enough to force opposing teams into making a lot of errors. I really think our hitting should be Okay."
But Roe is quick to point out that at a state tournament, every team's hitting is going to be OK or even better.
"If you make it this far, you are going to hit the ball well," he said "Every team is going to hit the ball. It's going to come down to which team's pitchers throw strikes and which team keeps their errors down."
Havre had its fair share of miscues last weekend, but to be fair, the All-Stars have only played a handful of games together with many players playing in different positions.
"We played some kids in some different positions last weekend and for the most part the kids responded pretty well," Roe said. "There are only so many infield positions, so we have had move some kids to outfield."
Perhaps the biggest unknown to Roe will be his competition. Havre hasn't played against any of the teams in its pool and didn't go to the district qualifying tournament because it had earned a spot at state as the host. The only team in the whole tournament that the All-Stars competed against was the Great Falls Sluggers.
"They have a solid team," Roe said. "It's a traveling squad with hand-picked players. They have some solid kids."
On Thursday, Havre will face Belgrade at 7 p.m. The remainder of its schedule will be a 6 p.m. game on Friday with Hi-Line West. The All-Stars will wrap up pool play on Saturday at 10 a.m. against South Valley.
The single elimination games will begin on Saturday at 2 p.m. and run through Sunday with the championship scheduled for 2 p.m.
American League Pool
National League Pool
12 p.m. - Glacier vs. South Valley
2 p.m. - Gallatin Valley vs. Miles City
4 p.m. - Kalispell vs. Butte
6 p.m. - Belgrade vs. Hi-Line West
8 p.m. - Havre vs. Glacier
8 a.m. - Gallatin Valley vs. Great Falls
10 a.m. - Belgrade vs. South Valley
12 p.m. - Butte vs. Miles City
2 p.m. - Glacier vs. Hi-Line West
4 p.m. - Great Falls vs. Kalispell
6 p.m. - Opening Ceremony
7 p.m. - Havre vs. Belgrade
8 a.m. - Kalispell vs. Miles City
10 a.m. - South Valley vs. Hi-Line West
12 p.m. - Butte vs. Great Falls
2 p.m. - Belgrade vs. Glacier
4 p.m. Gallatin Valley vs. Kalispell
6 p.m. - Havre vs. Hi-Line West
8 p.m. - Home Run Derby/Bubble Blowing Contest
8 a.m. - Great Falls vs. Miles City
10 a.m. - Havre vs. South Valley
12 p.m. - Gallatin Valley vs. Butte
2 p.m. - Placement game 21 (1A vs. 4N)
4 p.m. - Placement game 22 (1N vs. 4A)
6 p.m. - Placement game 23 (2A vs. 3N)
8 p.m. - Placement game 24 (2N vs. 3A)
10 a.m. - Semifinal (Winner 21 vs. Winner 24)
12 p.m. - Semifinal (Winner 22 vs. Winner 23)
2 p.m. - Championship