Daniel Horton Havre Daily News email@example.com
The Havre North Stars American Legion baseball team had another long weekend, and once again the North Stars saw their share of ups and downs. Friday through Sunday, the North Stars were on the road for the Gallatin Valley tournament in Three Forks. And on the weekend the North Stars went 1-4, while also dropping to an overall record of 4-16. Starting off the weekend, the Lewistown Redbirds defeated the North Stars 7-2. And in an even closer game, the Gallatin Valley Outlaws defeated the North Stars 12-11 in extra innings. The Bitteroot Red Sox then defeated the North Stars 10-0, before the North Stars would defeat the Butte Muckers 9-8. And wrapping up the weekend, the Glendive Blue Devils defeated the North Stars 10-2. “Overall we went 1-4 for the weekend,” North Stars head coach Steve Fanning said. “Picking up our first victory in a while was definitely a positive, but I know that overall the team was not satisfied with this weekend's performance.” In their 7-2 loss to the Redbirds, the North Star's Justin Jensen pitched the complete game, and pitched very well. But according to Fanning, the defense once again made Jensen throw more pitches than he needed to and it caught up with him. Joe Malisani led the North Star bats going 2-of-3, but Brandon Smith, Justin Jensen, Kyle Miller, Roman Surber and Gareth Bernard also added a hit each. “I was happy with the way (Justin Jensen) competed throughout the entire game,” Fanning said. “Lewistown is a team that is very similar to us, but we still haven't put together a good quality game against them. We will see them one more time this season and hopefully get a little revenge.” In the extra-inning loss to the Outlaws, the North Stars really got a chance to see what kind of team they can be. The Outlaws are one of top teams in the state, and the North Stars were right there in it. “I was very pleased with the way we competed in this game,” Fanning said. "The Outlaws are one of the most competitive teams in the state and we really should have won this game. This was a good experience for the guys because they were able to realize how talented they can be, and who they can play with.” The North Star bats heated up a bit in the game as well. Smith had another good game going 2-of-5. And Miller went 2-of-5 with a triple and a double, while Paul Jensen was 4-of-5. But along with the good offense, the North Stars brought good pitching. Miller started the game and pitched well, as did Shane Kemmer who came on in relief. “I think Kyle (Miller) and Shane (Kemmer) threw a good game,” Fanning said. “I have also been very pleased with the way Kyle (Miller) and Paul (Jensen) have been swinging the bats. When they're on they can carry our team.” Unfortunately for the North Stars, the caliber of play they showed against the Outlaws didn’t carry over to their game against the Red Sox. And pitching was the main component to the matchup with Bitteroot, while this time around the Red Sox had it and the North Stars didn’t. Surber took the mound for the North Stars and struggled to find the strike zone. But the Red Sox were more than accurate, giving up a hit to only Miller and Kemmer. “We saw one of the better pitchers we have faced this year,” Fanning said. “And he had his way with us. Any time you walk two or three guys against this type of team you will pay the price. I was expecting more out of our team after our performance against Gallatin Valley, but consistency has been a weakness of ours all season.” But in the highlight of the weekend, the North Stars once again found the win column, something they haven’t done since the end of May when they defeated the Tri-County Cardinals. “This was a win that we needed,” Fanning said. And though Gareth Bernard and the North Stars got the win against Butte, the game started out shaky. In the first inning, Bernard gave up six runs to the Muckers and the North Stars really had to dig down deep to pull off the win. “I was very pleased to see Gareth (Bernard) get some confidence on the mound,” Fanning said. “He has struggled as of late to throw strikes, but he settled in and threw his best stuff of the season. This showed us as a coaching staff that we can count on him if needed as a starter.” Offensively, the North Stars really stepped up to get the win as well against Butte. Smith and Paul Jensen both had doubles, while five other bats in the lineup had multiple hits. Surber and Miller both went 2-of-4, while Justin Jensen and Justin Denny both went 2-of-3. And Kemmer came through once more with a 2-of-2 performance. Fanning has made it clear how inconsistently his club has been playing, and that was the case one last time for the North Stars over the weekend. In their 10-2 loss to the Blue Devils, the North Stars bats were back to dormant and the defense struggled. Paul Jensen came through with a two double, 3-for-3 performance, and Justin Jensen also had a pair of doubles for the North Stars. “I am disappointed in the effort from our ball club,” Fanning said of the Glendive game. “Paul Jensen was a bright spot swinging the bat, and we just didn't play quality defense, something that a good team is going to take advantage of.” If there were ever a time for the North Stars to take a turn for the better, it would be now. Their next six games are against conference opponents, and they are all games they have the ability to win. “As a coaching staff we are expecting the kids to start making the turn, having seen more live game experience,” Fanning Said. The North Stars will play Wednesday at 5 p.m. They will host the Great Falls Sparkies at Legion Field, and kick off the first of six conference matchups.