George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
With such a young team, plenty of weather concerns and four games in three days against quality opponents, no one was too sure how the Havre North Stars American Legion baseball team would respond this weekend. But Havre answered plenty of questions as it took two of four games over the weekend, and three of six over the course of the four-day North Stars Memorial Tournament at Legion Field. Havre started the tourney by splitting with Bozeman and Richland County on Thursday night, and then the North Stars earned a split with Lewistown and Gallatin Valley on Friday, before losing to Bitteroot on Saturday and beating Lethbridge to wrap thing sup on Sunday afternoon. The weather turned cooperative after the first day of the event, but things got tough for the North Stars on Friday afternoon as they dropped a 7-4 decision to conference rival Lewistown. Against the Redbirds, Havre trailed 4-0 in the bottom of the third inning before mounting a comeback to get to within 4-3. During the rally, the red hot Paul Jensen double din Shane Kemmer and Kyle Miller followed that with a triple which plated Jensen. Miller later scored on an error. However, the powerful Redbirds continued to chip away at Havre starter Roman Surber, scoring a run in the fourth and two in the fifth, and Havre never answered. Surber took the loss for the North Stars after giving up nine hits and seven earned runs. At the plate, Havre managed seven hits but left multiple runners on base throughout the contest. Jensen and Miller were both outstanding at the dish in the loss, each collecting three hits. Lewistown got a strong completegame outing from Orrin Pyrah, who scattered seven hits and gave up just four runs in the win. In the nightcap on Friday, the North Stars bounced back in a big way, beating one of the tourney favorites, the Gallatin Valley Outlaws, 8-6. The game was a seesaw affair as the Outlaws got to Havre starter Shane Kemmer early scoring two runs in the opening inning. Havre managed to stay close with a run in the first and a run in the third before the Outlaws went up 4-2 in the top of the fourth inning. But just as they have done so many times, the North Stars came back. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Kemmer singled in Justin Jensen and Joe Malisani to tie the game at 4-4. Jensen reached base after being hit by a pitch and both he and Malasini were aggressive on the base paths with steals. However, the Outlaws responded by scoring runs in the fifth and sixth off reliever Brandon Smith, who did pitch strong the rest of the way. Still, trailing 6-4, the North Stars found a way to explode in the bottom of the sixth, scoring four runs to win the game going away as Smith nailed down the win in the seventh. Havre's late-inning heroics with Justin Jensen and Malisani reaching base again, and the Outlaws' starter Isiah Jensen not being able to find the strike zone. He walked in Roman Surber, and with the two on and the game tied at 6-6, Paul Jensen singled in Kemmer and Nick Nault to complete the comeback. Smith picked up the win for the North Stars, although Kemmer pitched well as well. Kemmer started the game by giving up three earned runs early, but came back to strike out seven Outlaws before handing the game over to Smith. At the plate, Kemmer and Paul Jensen each drove in two runs to lead the way, while Justin Jensen had a great game, collecting two hits, two runs scored and a stolen base. The win over Gallatin Valley was Havre's second come-from-behind win in as many nights, and the North Stars nearly did it again on Saturday night against the Bitteroot Red Sox. After a 1-1 first inning, the Red Sox touched up Havre starter Kyle Miller for seven more urns to lead 8-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. But Havre has been a resilient team, and in the their last at-bats, the North Stars rallied behind an RBI-double from Malisani, back-to-back singles from Kemmer and Justin Jensen and a two-run double from Paul Jensen to make the score 8-4. Miller then hit a sacrifice to plate Justin Jensen before Bitteroot finally recorded the third out and escaped with an 8-5 victory. On the mound, Miller did strike out six Red Sox, but he also hit three batters and gave up seven hits. Josh Haas came on in relief and pitched well, and at the plate, Kemmer and Paul Jensen remained hot, combining to go 5-for-8 with a pair of RBIs and two runs scored. Jensen also had two doubles, while Surber also had a strong game, going 2-for-2 with a two-base hit. The Red Sox got a strong, completegame outing from Wes Sherman in the win. He scattered five hits and four runs while striking out four and walking just one. On offense, lead-off man Brodie Anderson paced the Red Sox with two hits, two runs and RBI and two stolen bases. In the final outing of the weekend, Havre's bats continued to show signs of dominance and this time, thanks to a strong pitching performance from Justin Jensen, no comeback was needed against the Lethbridge Spitz Miners on Sunday afternoon. Against the young Miners, Justin Jensen went the distance in a fiveinning 10-0 Havre win. His completegame shutout included giving up just three hits and three walks, while he got plenty of support from his offense. Havre scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning and four in the second to lead 6-0 early, and that was more than enough for Jensen, who was in complete command. Offensively, the North Stars racked up nine hits in just five innings, and Kemmer again led the way, going 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Haas also had a big game, going 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs, while Miller and Paul Jensen, who both also hit well throughout the tourney, each drove in a run in the final game. The win over Lethbridge on Sunday meant the North Stars went 3-3 over the course of four days, and that improved their overall record to 9-7 for the season. Havre will now go back on the road for a conference doubleheader against the Miners on Wednesday in Lethbridge. The North Stars won't be back at Legion Field until June 30 when they host the Miners in a conference double-dip.