George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
When the heat was on at Legion Field, the Havre North Stars responded. Sort of. On Monday afternoon in Havre, the North Stars, playing in their first home games since June 15, went on yet another rollercoaster ride, coming from way behind to beat the Lethbridge Sptiz Miners in the first game of a conference twin bill, before losing by a lopsided margin in the nightcap. In the first game against the Miners, the North Stars trailed 7-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. But just as they have done four other times at home this season, they found a way to comeback, scoring two runs in the sixth and two in the seventh, including a walk-off sacrifice fly by Shane Kemmer, giving Havre a dramatic 8-7 comefrom- behind victory. "The kids showed a lot of heart coming back the way they did in that first game," Havre head coach Steve Fanning said. "They have done it a few times this season, so now they have the confidence to know that when we're behind late in games like we were today, we can come back and win." Indeed. The North Stars rallied three times in the first outing. Lethbridge got to Havre starter Paul Jensen early, scoring three runs right off the bat. But trailing 4-0 in the third inning, Havre's offense finally got going. Kemmer led off the inning with a walk and Josh Haas doubled . Eventually, Kemmer, Haas, Kyle Miller and Joe Malisani would come around to score, tying the game at 4-4. Still, Lethbridge, which pounded out 26 hits over the course of the two games, got back in front by scoring three runs over the next two innings and chasing Jensen from the game. Josh Haas would come in and shut the Miners down for two innings, and as a result pick up the victory. But Havre did its real theatrics at the plate late in the game. In the sixth, Justin Jensen led off with a walk and eventually scored, and Haas singled and was later driven in by Miller, pulling Havre to within a run at 7-6. Then, down to their final three outs, Havre responded yet again. Roman Surber singled and came around to score on an RBI by DeVries. A wild pitch later advanced DeVries before Kemmer drove him in with his flyout to right field. "I thought our pitching and defense was good," Fanning said. "And when we needed too, we got some big hits. I was really pleased with the way our guys hung in there in that game." Haas, Malisani, Surber and DeVries each went 2-for-4 and combined to drive in four of Havre's eight runs on the day. Miller, Paul Jensen and Nick Nault also had a hit each in the victory. On the mound, Jensen went five innings, giving up seven runs and 11 hits to a Lethbridge offense that has been on fire as of late. Haas came in and steadied the ship, allowing the Miners no runs and just one hit in two complete innings of relief. Cole Lencucha, who took the hard-luck loss for Lethbridge, went the distance. And with momentum on their side, everything was in line for a much-needed sweep by the North Stars. But the Miners had other ideas in the second game. The Miners scored early and often, collecting 14 hits in a 13-2 thrashing of the North Stars. Havre actually took a 2-0 lead in the first inning as Paul Jensen and Miller both singled and came around to score on two-RBI single by Nault. From there however, the Miners' bats were not silenced no more. Havre starter Shane Kemmer struggled to hold the Miners at bay. Lethbridge scored five runs in the third inning to lead 6-2, and the Miners added seven more runs in the final two innings to end the game after six, as Haas fared no better in relief of Kemmer late in the contest. Lethbridge got three hits each from Pat Maclean and Dillon Houghton, while Brian Tolley went 2-for-4 with four RBIs. "We had the momentum from the first game, but we just didn't hold on to it," Fanning said. "That's the consistency we're looking for right now. We're getting into July now and these games are really important, so we really need to start playing more consistent baseball at this point." Cody Lencucha went the full six innings for the Miners, scattering seven hits and giving up just two runs. Kemmer took the loss for the North Stars. At the plate, Miller led the way with three hits, while Paul Jensen and Nault each had two hits. The split with the Miners leaves Havre at 13-14 on the season. Today, the North Stars are back on the road to face conference front-runner Vauxhall in a doubleheader. The North Stars will also be in Polson this weekend for a tournament hosted by defending Class A state champion Mission Valley.