George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
After smashing a pair of RBI triples, only to be stranded on third base twice, it was only fitting that Havre North Stars' catcher Shane Kemmer touched home plate last. In a marathon second game of a Class A district conference doubleheader Saturday night at Legion Park in Havre, Kemmer finally tapped home plate late into the night as first basemen Nick Nault connected on a walk off single that gave the North Stars a 3-2 extra-inning victory and a much-needed sweep of the Tri-County Cardinals. Nault's final RBI gave Havre a dramatic win, and that capped off a day that also saw Havre thrash Tri-County 8-4 in the opening game. "That's what we needed," Havre head coach Steve Fanning said. "Guys to step up and give us the big hit, and we got that in both games tonight. Getting the sweep was big. You have to sweep at home, and I'm proud of our guys for hanging in there and getting the job done." In the second game of the doubledip, Kemmer delivered the big hit time and time again. He started the game off with a single, and in the second inning, he drove in Joe Malasanti on a triple to the right field gap. And with Havre trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Kemmer belted another shot to the same gap which plated Justin Jensen to tie the game at 2-2. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Kemmer got on again, stole second and eventually came around to score on Nault's gamewinning hit. "Kemmer was solid all day long," Fanning said. "That's what we have to have, guys step up and hit the ball, and he did that for us today." The second game however, was as much about pitching as it was hitting. Havre starter Kyle Miller and Tri- County starter Brent Bandow each went five innings of solid work before turning the game over to the bullpen. And it was Havre's Josh Haas who kept the Cardinals in check from there, while the North Stars managed to get to the Cardinals' bullpen. In the seventh inning, Havre loaded the bases and threatened to end the game there before the Cardinals found their way out of the jam. But Nault and the North Stars got the job done in the extra frame. Kemmer paced the North Stars at the dish with his two triples and a pair of RBIs. Havre also got the big hit from Nault, as well as two hits each from Malasanti, who had four hits in all, and Roman Surber. The Cardinals were paced by Mike Shae and Riley Styrun's two hits a piece. On the mound, Miller gave Havre a five-strikeout performance, and Haas came in and mowed down five Cardinals and stranded four runners in scoring position over the final three innings to get the win. "Our pitching was solid all day, like it has been all season," Fanning said. "Kyle Miller pitched really well and Josh Haas came in a did a great job. And I thought both Paul Jensen and Roman Surber were really good in the first game. So I was really pleased with our pitching again today." In the first game of the double header, the North Stars left little doubt as they put up four runs on RBIs by Miller, Haas and Malasanti in the bottom of the first inning. Havre tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning to lead 6-0 while starter Paul Jensen went five innings, giving up five hits and two earned runs while striking out five before turning the game over to Surber, who calmly shut down any hopes of a Tri-County comeback. Still, Jensen collected the win, his second of the season. At the plate, Haas and Malasanti were the difference, each collecting two hits. Haas also doubled to left field and drove in a pair of runs, while Miller also doubled and drove in a run. The Cardinals, who managed just six hits and had as many errors in the field, were led by leadoff man Colby Johnson's 3-for-3 performance, while Brent Bandow was hit with the loss in game one. "Overall, I was really pleased," Fanning said. We had 21 days off and still we hit the ball ok. And out pitching and defense was really solid. So I was really happy with the way we played today." The North Stars then capitalized on the sweep of Tri-County by picking up two more conference wins on Sunday in Great Falls. On Sunday, Havre beat the Great Falls Sparkies by scores of 8-2 and 9-7 to go 4-0 on the weekend. Surber picked up the win in the first game and was relieved by Will DeVries, and Kemmer, who was still on a tear at the plate on Sunday, got the complete-game victory in game two, including giving up no earned runs. Havre is 6-4 on the season, and the North Stars won't play again until June 12 when they host the Havre Baseball Jamboree.