Havre Daily News sports editor
The Havre Northstars American Legion baseball team plays one of the most difficult schedules in all of Class A baseball.
And on Sunday afternoon at Legion Field in Havre, the Northstars opened their 2006 season with a pair of difficult losses to one of the best teams in Class AA, the Great Falls Stallions.
The Northstars were shot down in the first game by Great Falls ace Kaleb Kovatch. He combined with two other Stallions pitchers to toss a five-hit shutout as the Stallions blanked Havre 7-0.
Even though the Northstars had trouble hitting the ball in the first game of the doubleheader, the Stallions could do nothing with Havre starter Chase Castloo either. Castloo held the Stallions scoreless through the first four innings and twice struck out the side.
But in the fifth inning, Castloo fell into a jam with the game still scoreless. An error by Castloo and another one by second basemen John Christian put two Great Falls runners in scoring position. Reliever Jeremiah Moog couldn't get the Northstars out of the bind and Great Falls plated three runs in the inning. And with Great Falls in complete command on the mound, the first run that the Stallions scored turned out to be all they would need in the 7-0 win.
At the plate, Sean Peterson paced the Northstars with two hits and Tanner Donovan, Josh Lowe and Jess McLain all added singles. In the field, Havre was hampered by the two fifth-inning errors. Great Falls managed only six hits by six different batters. Kyle Debolt and Kevin Hatley had two RBIs apiece in the win.
In the second game of the twin bill, the North Stars offense still had trouble coming out of winter hibernation through the first six innings. But once again, Havre's pitching also stood up to the Great Falls bats early on.
Havre starter Sean Peterson held the Great Falls lineup in check despite being put in a 2-0 first-inning hole after a costly Moog error in centerfield plated two Stallions. In the second inning, Havre managed to get one of those runs back when Austin Small scored on a Great Falls error, and the game remained at 2-1 until the fifth inning.
Then in the sixth inning, with the Stallions leading 3-1, Havre's offense came alive just in time to push the game into extra innings. Havre scored twice in the sixth, once when Moog reached home plate via a fielder's choice off the bat of Small, and the game-tying run came on the next play when Jess McLain scored on a wild pitch.
The game remained tied at 3-3 until the top of the eighth when Great Falls exploded for four straight runs with two outs in the inning to take a 7-3 lead.
Havre tried to rally again in the bottom of the eighth when Moog scored on a Great Falls error and Peterson drove in McLain to pull the Northstars to within two runs at 7-5. But that is as far as the comeback got as Great Falls held on for a 7-5 win and a sweep in the doubleheader.
Peterson led the way for Havre with six strikeouts in seven-plus innings of work. Castloo and Small paced the Northstars at the plate with two hits each. Great Falls got two hits and three RBIs from Bryce Thompson in the win.
The Northstars will be back in action Friday when they host the Great Falls Electrics in a day/night doubleheader.
Stallions AA 7. Northstars 0
G.F. Stallions AA 0 0 0 0 3 1 3 - 7 6 0
Havre Northstars 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 5 2
Havre - Josh Lowe 1-4, John Christian 0-3, Tanner Donovan 1-2 Jeremiah Moog 0-2, Jess McLain 1-3, Sean Peterson 2-3, Austin Small 0-3, Scott Ladenburg 0-2.
Stallions AA 7, Northstars 5 (8 innings)
GF Stallions AA 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 4 - 7 8 5
Northstars 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 2 - 5 6 5
Havre - Josh Lowe 1-5, John Christian 0-4, Tanner Donovan 0-4, Jeremiah Moog 0-2, Jess McLain 1-4, Austin Small 2-3, Chase Castloo 2-3, Scott Ladenburg 0-4, Josh Morse 0-2, Sean Peterson 0-1.