Daniel Horton Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre North Stars American Legion baseball team has struggled offensively early in the season, but in a double header against the Medicine Hat Monarchs the North Stars saw signs of heating up. But while the bats began to come around for the North Stars on Tuesday in Medicine Hat, they fell short of capturing a win on the road. In game one, the Monarchs defeated the North Stars 7-2 and in game two, the Monarchs beat the North Stars 12-10. The North Stars are struggling to find the win column, and now have dropped to 3-12 after going 0-for-7 in their last seven outings. In game one, Brandon Smith took charge from the mound and once again threw very well for the North Stars. And in his innings pitched, Smith gave up only three earned runs. “I am Very happy with how well Brandon has been stepping it up on the mound,” North Stars head coach Steve Fanning said. “He's been one of our most reliable arms.” The Monarchs were kept at bay for all but two innings. In the third and fourth they came alive and put all seven runs on the board. “If we play the entire game,” Fanning said. “Seven innings of baseball, the score is different. We had some miscues, we make our pitcher throw more pitches than he needs to and we get into trouble.” Offens i v e l y , the North Stars we led by Joe Ma l i s a n i and Ryan Mingneau who both went 2-of-3. Smith and Kyle Miller got their bats going as well, both earning doubles. In game two of the afternoon, the North Stars began taking a turn for the better. And though a notch in the win column remained ellusive, it was their best offensive performance to date. “We were seeing the ball better,” Fanning said. “Swinging at better pitches, being aggressive, and seeing production one through nine in the lineup. That's something we haven't had much of this season.” The North Stars combined for 15 hits, and held a 9-4 lead after five good innings from Paul Jensen on the mound. But it was the sixth inning that gave them some trouble, and gave the Monarchs the advantage. Roman Surber and Garreth Bernard relieved Jensen to pitch in the sixth, but they both struggled to find the strike zone. And in the inning they combined for six walks, which gave the Monarchs the opportunity to earn eight runs and the lead. “Any t ime y o u ' r e p l a y i n g well and your pitching isn't there it's difficult,” Fa n n i n g said. “It’s a tough game when you out hit the opposi t ion and play better defense just to see it get wasted in one inning.” In the game, the North Stars saw better at bats. Jensen led the way going 4-of-4 while Mingneau and Smith each went 2-of- 4. And Miller added to the barrage of hits by going 3-0f-5 with a triple. “Some guys are starting to swing the bat well,” Fanning said. “Which will hopefully spread throughout the lineup. Ryan Mingneau and Brandon Smith had a great double header.” The North Stars have fallen in a handful of close matchups this season, but with the offense starting to find its groove, the upcoming Gallatin Valley tournament has the potential to turn their season around. “The competition will be tough again,” Fanning said. “But the game experience will continue to make us a better ball club.” The North Stars will be on the road to attend the Gallatin Valley tournament Friday-Sunday.