Havre Daily News Sports Editor
SIDNEY - The Havre Northstars ran into an offensive juggernaut on Monday afternoon at the Montana Class A State American Legion baseball tournament, and it wasn't pretty.
The Bitterroot Bucs, fresh off a 20-5 win over the Billings Cardinals earlier in the day, banged out 18 hits - six of them for extra bases - in a 15-5 drubbing of the Northstars at Moose Field.
Bitterroot broke open a somewhat close game in the eighth inning, scoring five runs off Northstar relievers Ben Erickson and Jeff Tibbals to end the game via the 10-run mercy rule.
"Obviously, Bitterroot is a good hitting team. They've proven that all season," said Northstar head coach Mickey Williams. "But until that last inning we were in the game and had our opportunities to score with them"
Indeed, Havre had 20 runners reach base, but stranded 15 of them in the game. Three times the Northstars were retired with the bases loaded.
"That's just doesn't cut it," Williams said. "You can't expect to leave that many runners on base and hope to win games, especially against a team like that."
Havre jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning as Patch Wirtzberger scored on a John Christian sacrifice fly. The Northstars left the bases loaded as Josh Morse's hard ground ball up the middle was gloved by the pitcher for the third out.
Bitterroot's vaunted offense got going in the bottom of the second, scoring four runs off Northstar starter Austin Small. Justin Moe and Kalen Ostheimer had RBIs, while Chad Henderson delivered a two-run double to the wall.
Havre immediately cut the Buc lead to 4-3 in the third. Sean Peterson ripped an RBI double and Scott Ladenburg was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Bitteroot pushed its lead to 6-3 with runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Havre again trimmed the lead to one in the sixth as Peterson had his second RBI double of the game and Morse scored Christian on a fielder's choice.
That would be as close as the Northstars would get. Reliever Tony Isbell quieted the Havre bats with a blazing fastball in later innings.
Bitterroot picked up a run in the sixth, another in the seventh and five in the eighth to put the game away.
"Things got out of hand there at the end," Williams said. "I was kind of disappointed with how we competed at the end. We needed to have someone step up and make a play to get us out of the inning."
The Northstars' season comes to a close with a 43-26 record.
Offensively, Havre was led by Erickson and Peterson, who had three hits each.
"I am pretty proud of these kids for the way they competed all season," Williams said. "At the beginning of the season, I didn't even know if playing in the state tournament was a possibility. But they worked hard and really exceeded my expectations."
Bucs 15, Northstars 5
Havre Northstars 102 002 00 - 5 11 4
Bitterroot Bucs 040 111 15 - 15 18 2
Austin Small (6), Ben Erickson (7), Jeff Tibbals and Josh Morse; Hanna (3), Isbell and Ostheimer
WP - Isbell; LP - Small
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Jeff Tibbals 1-4; Patch Wirtzberger 1-4; Josh Lowe 1-4; Ben Erickson 3-5; John Christian 1-4 (RBI); Sean Peterson 3-4 (2 RBI); Josh Morse 1-4 (RBI); Chase Castloo 0-1; Eric Fanning 0-1; Scott Ladenburg 1-3(RBI).
BUCS HITTING - Perez 1-3; Henderson 2-6 (2 RBI); Cam Edman 2-4 (RBI); Isbell 2-5 (RBI); Sheppard 3-4; Person 1-5; Lind 1-4; Moe 4-5 (RBI); Ostheimer 4-5 (2 RBI).
2B - Peterson 2, Christian, Erickson, Henderson, Isbell 2, Ostheimer 3.
3B - Moe
HR - none