George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
The Havre North Stars American Legion baseball team took an important step towards realizing their dream of playing in the Class A American Legion State Tournament next week. On Thursday night in Conrad, the North Stars did what they have done so many times this season, win a ballgame late. In the opening round of the Northern District Tournament, the North Stars edged the host Tri-County Cardinals 10-7 to advance to play the top-seeded Vauxhall Spurs in a winner's bracket game this evening. Pitching was key for the North Stars on Thursday. Havre got 6 1/3 innings form starter and staff ace Paul Jensen, who wound up with a no decision. Veteran Shane Kemmer came on in relief and worked the seventh, eighth ninth inning to not only keep the Cardinals at bay, but pick up the victory. "I thought Paul really gutted up and threw a great game," Havre head coach Steve Fanning said. "He didn't come away with the win, but he definitely kept us in the game. That is the best I've seen him hit his spots and strike guys out." Combined, Jensen and Kemmer struck out 13 Cardinals. The North Stars also got timely hitting from the bottom half of their batting order on Thursday night. Veteran Nick Nault, and youngsters Willie DeVries, Justin Jensen and Roman Surber all came up with clutch hits throughout the contest, and all drove in key runs in the game. "Offensively, our bottom half of the order won the ball game for us," Fanning said. "I was proud of the way we played the whole game. Great way to start the tournament." The fifth-seeded North Stars will now meet the top-seeded Vauxhall Spurs. On Thursday morning Vauxhall bested the eighth-seeded Great Falls Sparkies 11-5. Havre lost all four of its regular season meetings with the Spurs. "Vauxhall will be a challenging team to beat," Fanning said. "But teams have proved that it can be done." In other first-round action Thursday in Conrad, the sixth-seeded Great Falls Stallions upset third-seeded Lethbridge 6-3 and second-seeded Medicine Hat beat seventh-seeded Fort MacLeod 8-7. The Stallions and Knights meet today at 2 in the other winner's bracket game, while the Sparkies play Tri-County and Fort MacLeod takes on Lethbridge in loser-out games this morning. Tonight's game between Havre and Vauxhall will get under way at 5, and the district tournament will continue through Sunday in Conrad.