Daniel Horton Havre Daily News email@example.com
After splitting a series with the top team in the conference on Monday, the Havre North Stars American Legion baseball team knew a doubleheader with the No. 2 team was going to be a tough one as well. But the North Stars stepped up and got a two-game sweep at home. On Tuesday, the North Stars were hosting the Lethbridge Spitz Miners where in game one the North Stars earned the 5-0 victory. And in game two, the North Stars defeated the Spitz Miners 5-4. With the two wins on Tuesday, the North Stars moved to 13-11 in conference play, and 14-22 overall. “These were both really good wins,” North Star's head coach Steve Fanning said. “When you have the road trip we’ve had, then you come home and play the top two teams in the conference and get three wins, you’ve got to be pretty happy about that.” In game one, the North Stars looked good all the way around, but Roman Surber’s performance from the mound kept them in great position for the win. In the seven-inning complete game, Surber only threw 71 pitches. And while striking out five he allowed only two base on balls, three hits and no runs. “He’s (Surber) been getting in a rhythm lately,” Fanning said. “It’s a good time for him to be getting hot on the mound, and that’s the best stuff I have seen him have all year. His stuff was working, he was awesome and wasn’t wasting pitches going deep in the count.” The North Stars also got consistent hitting through the lineup, which they have been striving for all season long. Tyler Olthoff got the North Stars on the board in the second inning on an RBI double. And extending the lead to 3-0, Brandon Smith continued to hit well and earned an RBI single. And in the sixth inning, the North Stars scored two more runs on two hits and two Spitz Miner errors. Smith earned his second RBI of the game on another base hit, and Olthoff scored on a bad throw to third base. “We are starting to swing the bats better,” Fanning said. “And I thought we did a better job one through nine. And actually our back end of the lineup bailed us out a little bit at times, which is huge. We need that more often, and we can’t just expect our one through five to do everything.” Justin Jensen, Joe Malisani, Willie DeVries and Brayden Grimson all received a hit as well. And while Olthoff earned two RBIs, he also scored two runs. In the second half of the doubleheader, the North Stars continued to swing the bats effectively. They answered the Spitz Miners one run in the second inning on a Garreth Bernard single, and built on their 1-1 lead in the third inning. Kyle Miller and Surber both earned an RBI single to stretch the lead to 3-1, and Malisani took it a step further with his two-run single. The North Stars took a 5-1 lead on five hits in the inning, and one Lethbridge error. But being the No. 2 team in the conference, the Spitz Miners came back to challenge the North Stars in the fourth inning. But in all of their efforts they would still fall short by one run. They did however score three runs on three hits, and two North Star's errors. Malisani and Smith both led the North Stars with two hits. And Miller, Surber, DeVries, Bernard and Ryan Mingneau all had a hit as well. Pitching once again played a big part in the Havre victory. Justin Jensen started game two, and pitched four solid innings. He faced 24 batters and allowed four runs, but also struck out one and only walked two. Miller came on in relief, and dominated as well. He pitched three innings, allowing no runs while striking out four. For the save. “Justin (Jensen) started well, and he just looked tired,” Fanning said. “And now that he is catching a little bit too, I think that’s coming into play. Kyle (Miller) came in and only had two days rest, but threw lights out. You couldn’t ask for anything better than that. That was a great job and he has been money the latter part of the year.” The North Stars will take another small break from play, but will be thrown right back into tough completion. On Saturday the North Stars will be on the road to face the Vauxhall Spurs in another conference doubleheader. And on Sunday, the North Stars will remain in Canada for a conference doubleheader against the Miners. “We have three days off and then go up to Canada,” Fanning said. “I hope three days isn’t enough to slow us down. If we go up there and win some games we can be sitting in third place, if we lose them we could be sitting in sixth.” The next time the North Stars will be at home will be July 23-27 when the Northern District tournament comes to Havre.