Northstars get back to business in Billings
George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
Sometimes a layoff can do a baseball team a world of good. After all, baseball is always a long season, no matter of it is professional or American Legion or even teeball. As the Havre Northstars American Legion baseball club prepares to open play at a Class A tournament in Billings today, the Northstars will do so on seven days rest. That layoff by baseball standards is extremely long, and how the Northstars will come out of it is anybody’s guess. Heading into its extended break, Havre had played six games in a span of less than 72 hours. On June 27 in Havre, the Northstars split a twilight doubleheader with the Tri-County Cardinals. And the following night, the Northstars took one of two games from Northern District frontrunner Lewistown. Havre’s game one defeat of the Redbirds in that doubleheader was Lewistown’s first loss in district play all season. The Northstars then wrapped up their grueling six-game marathon with an easy sweep of the Great Falls Stallions in Great Falls. The 4-2 record over the course of those three days put the Northstars at 16-4 in district play on the season, but still in second place in the Northern District standings, still behind the Redbirds. Before their downtime, Havre was getting outstanding pitching from its entire rotation. Austin Small, Chase Castloo, Jeremiah Moog, Tanner Donovan, Sean Peterson and John Christian have all won multiple games for the Northstars this summer, and any of them could be called upon to start a big game as the Northstars head towards the stretch run of the season.
On the mound, Christian, Donovan and Small are all unbeaten this season. Castloo leads the team in strikeouts with 21, and Small is leading the Northstars in earned run average with a stellar 1. 50 ERA. No doubt, the rest that Havre’s pitching staff has had this week will come in handy as the Northstars head towards the district tournament, which is a mere three weeks away. Havre also enters this weekend’s tournament in Billings with several hot hitters, led by Moog. The pitcher/outfielder has been on fire at the plate over the last eight games, hitting an astounding .437 during that stretch, including a homerun. Moog is hitting .327 in conference play this season and is one of the Northstars’ top sluggers. First baseman/designated hitter Bryan Heath is also hot right now for the Northstars. In the doubleheader against the Stallions back on June 29, Heath went 6- for-8 at the plate with four doubles. Heath is tied with Castloo for the team lead in doubles with eight. Peterson, Anthony Wirtzberger, Castloo and Donovan are hitting extremely consistently for Havre and head coach Mickey Williams heading into the Billings tourney.
Peterson is among the district leaders in hits, on-base percentage and stolen bases, and in conference games, he leads the Northstars with 18 RBIs despite being the teams’ leadoff hitter. In conference play, Donovan is batting an astounding .526, while Wirtzberger and Castloo are hitting a gawdy .475 and .411 respectively. The Northstars will get four high-profile games in Billings this weekend, starting with today’s tilt against the Billings Blue Jays. The Blue Jays are one of the Southern A’s top teams and should provide a good test for the Northstars’ potent pitching staff. On Friday, Havre will square off against the Bozeman Bucs at 3:30 p.m. The Northstars have seen the Bucs this season at the Gallatin Valley tournament. On Saturday Havre will face another tough Southern A squad in the form of the Billings Scarlets at 10:30 a.m. The Northstars will wrap up tournament play on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. against the Tri-County Cardinals. The game between the Northstars and Cardinals is a non-league affair. There is a championship game scheduled for Sunday afternoon with the teams with two best overall records in four games to meet. But Havre will not participate in the game regardless of its results over the course of the weekend. The Northstars are on the road until July 16 when they host the Vauxhall Spurs in a regular season finale doubleheader.