Babe Ruth all stars extend summer with state title
Chris Peterson Havre Daily News email@example.com
Every championship team has one thing in common. That common thread is heart. This weekend in Helena at the Babe Ruth Baseball State Tournament, the Havre 15-year-old all-star team showed the heart of a champion, overcoming numerous obstacles on its way to winning the 2006 state championship. A week removed from cruising to the District IV championship at Legion Field, Havre entered the state tournament with high expectations. Havre was hit with a rude awakening by getting crushed 8-1 by Mission Valley on Wednesday in the opening game of pool play in Helena. That loss was followed by a 5-4 loss to Glendive on Thursday, giving Havre an 0-2 record in pool play, as well as severely damaging its hopes of making it into the singleelimination round. “After the first two games, we thought that we might be going home on Friday,” Havre head coach Bruce Normandy said. “We made like six or seven errors in the first game and we just struggled to hit the ball.” Facing the possibility of elimination, Havre took the field against a heavily favored Helena team on Friday afternoon. Instead of giving in or giving up, Havre played as well as it has all season long, trouncing Helena by the score of 16-2. “They (Helena) already had reservations for regionals,” Normandy said. “But, something clicked for us in that game. The guys finally got the bats going and we started playing a lot better defense. They just saw our record and looked past us.” Havre continued its resurgent play with a 12-4 victory over South Valley to finish pool play. The win over South Valley took Havre from the brink of elimination all the way to a second-place finish in its pool. “These kids just refused to go away,” Normandy said. “They kept playing hard and things finally turned around for us.” In the first round of single-elimination play on Saturday morning, Havre continued its hot play. Havre handily defeated the Hi-Line all stars, 12-2, and advancing to the state semifinals in the process. With a berth in the championship game on the line, Havre sent Paul Jensen to the mound against Kalispell in the semifinals. Jensen lost his first start of the tournament to Glendive, but more than redeemed himself against Kalispell, helping to lead Havre to a 10-3 victory on Saturday night. “Paul Jensen really pitched well for us the entire weekend,” Normandy said. “He pitched in the game we lost to Glendive, but he did a really good job for us against Kalispell.” Havre’s win over Kalispell set up a rematch against Mission Valley in the state championship game on Sunday.
The two teams slugged it out in an old-fashioned pitching dual. With the score tied at 1-1 late in the game, Shane Kemmer stepped up to bat with a one man on base and a chance to break the tie. Kemmer blasted a triple, scoring Beau Briese and giving Havre a 2-1 lead. With a slim cushion to work with, Normandy sent Kyle Miller to the mound to finish off the game, and with the help of his defense that is exactly what Miller did. He closed out Mission Valley and the state championship with it, as Havre won 2-1. “It is really satisfying to be state champions, because the team had to go through a lot to win it,” Normandy said. “They battled through a lot of adversity and we were basically playing single elimination for the last five games. “The team really stayed together,” he added. “They never gave up when the chips were down. They are really good kids and I am very proud of them.” By winning the state tournament, Havre qualified for the Western Regional Tournament in Kelso, Wash., which begins on Monday and runs through Aug. 5. At regionals, there will be two pools made up of five teams each, with the top two teams in each pool advancing into the single-elimination bracket. Havre will open the tournament against Southern Oregon at 2 p.m. on Monday. On Aug. 1, Havre will take on Idaho at 2 p.m. On Aug. 2, Havre will meet up with Southern Washington at 2 p. m. Havre will finish pool play on Aug. 4 against Wyoming at 11 a.m.