Havre Daily News sports editor
Tonight, at Legion Field in Havre, it will mark the first time this season that the Havre Northstars and havre Comets American Legion baseball teams won't be playing a team from Great Falls.
Instead, the Northstars and Comets will renew an old rivalry when they square off against each other at 7 p.m. The game is the first of four conference meetings between the two teams, and is the first conference game of the season for the Comets.
The Northstars come into tonight's matchup fresh off a two-game sweep of the Great Falls Stallions in what was their conference opener on Sunday afternoon in Havre. Havre edged Great Falls, 4-3 in the opening game behind the solid pitching of Anthony Wirtzberger. Wirtzberger held the normally powerful Stallions' offense in check for most of the game and he also got some help from the Northstar defense, which had by far its best outing of the young season. And, at games end, Havre got a timely hit by Chase Castloo, which is something else Havre had been lacking up until that point in the season.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Northstars bats continued their awakening process as they pounded out 11 runs on eight hits en route to an 11-6 win to preserve the sweep of the Stallions and go 2-0 in conference play.
The sweep of the Stallions on Sunday improved the Northstars record to 3-4 overall, but more importantly, put them a leg up on rival Great Falls in the conference standings.
So far this season, Havre has been getting solid production at the plate from shortstop/pitcher Sean Peterson, shortstop Austin Small, infielder/pitcher Tanner Donovan, second basemen John Christian, first baseman Jess Mclain and pitcher/outfielder Chase Castloo.
Castloo, who has been a mainstay on the Northstars pitching staff the last two years, has also been solid on the mound for Havre. Wirtzberger, Peterson, Jeremiah Moog and Donovan have also pitched well either starting or in relief for the Northstars early in their 2006 campaign.
Meanwhile, the Havre Comets are off to a 1-2 start this season andtonight will be their fourth outing of the year under second-year head coach Steve Fanning.
On April 29, the Comets opened their season with a split against the Great Falls Sparkies at Legion Field. Havre opened that doubleheader with a 7-1 win over the Sparkies behind the solid pitching of Andrew Lindquist. Lindquist figures to be an important part of the Comets' rotation this summer.
In the second game of that doubleheader, the Comets surrendered 17 runs, despite scoring 12 themselves in what turned out to be a wild affair.
The following day, the Comets dropped a 7-5 decision to the Great Falls Stallions.
At the plate, the Comets will look to Lindquist, Logan Reichelt, Marshall Cartwright, Scott Vigliotti, Brian Heath, Seth Jensen and Kyle Surber, among others, to lead them in 2006.
So far, Reichelt and Lindquist have been Havre's most consistent hitters in the Comets three games that they have played in.
Tonight's contest will be an important game for both Havre teams. The Comets have not fared well against their big brother, the Northstars in the past few years, and a win under the lights at Legion Field would be a huge step toward building a foundation in conference play.
Meanwhile, the Northstars are looking to move to 3-0 in conference play, which would put them well out in front in the league standings heading into Sunday's doubleheader with the Great Falls Sparkies. And another win at home will give the Northstars even more of a cushion as they are in the midst of a 11-game season-opening homestand. The Northstars don't play their first road games until May 20 when they travel to Great Falls to take on the Stallions AA squad for the second time this season. After the homestand, the Northstars will play eight of their next 10 games on the road, including the prestigious Tom Taleff Memorial tournament tournament in Great Falls.
Tonight's Northern Conference American Legion game between the Havre Northstars and Havre Comets will get under way at 7 at Legion Field. The game is scheduled to be a 9-inning contest.