George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Clinging to a two-run lead late in the the final inning of an important conference doubleheader at home, the Havre North Stars American Legion baseball team got the out it needed, and more importantly, a much-needed Northern District win. Coming off two dreadful losses to Vauxhall on Wednesday afternoon at home, the North Stars dropped their third straight game when they lost to Medicine Hat in the first game of a Thursday afternoon double-dip at Legion Field. But with their ace on the mound and some timely hitting, the North Stars finally got the ship righted in the second game as they pulled out an 8-6 win to salvage a split with the Medicine Hat Knights. "The kids showed a lot of heart and character today," Havre head coach Steve Fanning said. "After the way Vauxhall beat us yesterday, it wasn't going to be easy to come back and play today. It was tough. But I felt like we played five good innings in the first game, and then we put together a really good game in the second game. So I'm really proud of these guys today." Havre rode a strong outing by Paul Jensen in game two, and the North Stars jumped on Medicine Hat at the plate, building 7-2 lead after three innings. Jensen held the Medicine Hat bats at bay, striking out four of the first 11 batters he faced. Meanwhile, the North Stars sent nine batters to the dish in the bottom of the first inning, with Josh Haas, Shane Kemmer, Jensen, Willie DeVries and Nick Nault all singling in the inning. Haas and Kyle Miller came around to score on Kemmer's single, and he later scored on a Jensen RBI to give Havre a 3-0 lead. And the North Stars weren't done either. In the bottom of the second inning, Miller doubled to right-center and Kemmer drove him in with another base hit. Kemmer came around to score on a Joe Malisani RBI as Havre staked a 6-0 lead after two innings. The North Stars tacked on two more runs to lead 8-2 after four innings. Medicine Hat, the second-place team in the district, tried to rally, scoring four runs in its half of the seventh, but Roman Surber managed to get the outs needed to put the Knights away, and finally get Havre back in the win column. "Paul pitched really, really well today," Fanning said. "He really gave us a lift, and that's about the fourth straight game that he's went out and pitched like that. "That's a really good win for our club because in some ways I feel like Medicine Hat is better than Vauxhall, even though they didn't really show that today. But either way, it's a good win for our team and I was happy to see us play seven good innings of baseball." Offensively, Kemmer paced the North Stars with a 3-for-3 performance, including 3 RBIs and a double. Nick Nault also went a stellar 3-for-3, while Jensen and Malisani added two hits each. The win came on the heels of Havre's third straight conference loss in game one. The Knights and North Stars were locked in 3-3 tie in the sixth inning when Medicine Hat scored three straight runs in the sixth to pull ahead 6-3 and eventually win 7-3. Havre did lead 3-0 highlighted by a monster Jensen homerun over the left field scoreboard. But Kemmer, who started the game for the North Stars, and pitched well at times, couldn't keep the strong Medicine Hat batting order at bay in the sixth inning, and the Knights were able to pull out a comefrom- behind victory. Havre's offense was quieted in the first game, managing five hits off Medicine Hat starter Reid Fischer. Jensen and Nault each had hits and RBIs to lead the way, while Haas, Kemmer and Malisani all had a hit each as well. "We played well today," Fanning said. "And with it being so late in the season, it's important that we start playing complete games. We played five good innings in the first game and then we saw what can happen when we put a complete-game together. Hopefully we can keep that up." The North Stars are 10-16 in conference play, and on Sunday, they will play their final two games of the regular season when they host Fort McLeod at 1 p.m. at Legion Field.