North Stars American Legion baseball team already had two wins over the Great
Falls Stallions heading into Sunday’s Northern District doubleheader in Havre.
And last weekend in Great Falls, the wins
over the Stallions looked easy. However, two more wins was anything but. On
Sunday afternoon at Legion Field, the North Stars made their home debut by
beating the Stallions twice, once in a game that had to go extra innings, and
the other a game that the North Stars didn’t even need the seventh frame. But
both were tough due to the 40 mph wind that was whipping in from the outfield
all day long.
In the first game of the twin bill, the
North Stars used small ball and run manufacturing to earn a dramatic 5-4 win
over the Stallions. Havre and Great Falls were tied at 4-4 through seven
innings, and the game went on to the ninth with both teams leaving winning
runners stranded for two straight innings.
But in the bottom of the ninth, the North
Stars were able to put together the winning run the old-fashioned way. Havre’s
Justin Denny led off the inning with a great at-bat and a walk. Then, Thurman
Holdsclaw laid down a bunt, and not only moved Denny over, but beat the throw
out as well. Spencer Morkird followed by doing the same and loading the bases
for Justin Jensen. However, Jensen didn’t need to swing the bat as a wild pitch
allowed Denny to score the game-winner and give Havre its first win at home on
the young season.
Small ball was the theme of game on for the
North Stars, who only managed six hits against Stallions’ starter Zach Puckett.
But the North Stars got great pitching of their own as Brandon Smith went four
innings, allowing just three hits and three runs while striking out nine.
Garreth Bernard finished the game for the North Stars, who took a 1-0 lead in
the second inning when Denny scored on a passed ball.
The Stallions went ahead 3-2 on a big fifth
inning, but Havre tied the game back up in its half of the fifth when Kolby
Sukut came around to score on a fielder’s choice. Each team added a run in the
sixth inning, sending the game into the dramatic extra two innings.
Morkrid led the hitting for Havre by going
2-for-3 while driving in a run, while Denny scored twice. Jensen and Mark
Vukasin had RBIs and Vukasin added a double in the win. Smith, Sukut and
Bernard also added hits for the North Stars in the exciting first game.
And if game one was a nail biter, the North
Stars weren’t afraid to turn the nightcap into a laugher.
Havre belted out 14 hits on its way to a
game-two 12-2 win in six innings. The North Stars dominated the game from start
to finish and got an outstanding outing from Jensen on the mound. Jensen
scattered six hits and struck out four on his way to a complete-game victory,
his second against the Stallions in two weeks.
But as good as Jensen was on the mound, he
and the North Stars were equally adept at the plate. Havre chased Great Falls
starter Quade Hamrell after five innings, including a five-run first inning.
Then, the North Stars tacked on four runs in the sixth inning to send the
Stallions home early.
Havre’s first inning though, is what did
Great Falls in. Jensen, who went 2-for-3 with two stolen bases, led the game
off with a single. Vukasin and Smith added singles and all of them came around
to score, as well as Sukut, as Bernard wound up driving in three runs with a
shot to right field. Denny also singled in the first as Havre sent all nine
batters to the plate in the first frame and never looked back.
Along with Jensen’s day at the plate, the
big blows also came from Smith and Bernard, who combined for seven hits, two
doubles, and each of them drove in four runs. Vukasin also doubled and had two
hits, while Denny added a hit and Sukut had two runs scored.
The two wins on Sunday give Havre a 4-0
start to the season. The North Stars are back at home on Saturday for one
nine-inning game against the Great Falls Electrics. Sunday’s scheduled games
against the Tri-County Cardinals however, have been moved to July.
North Stars 5, G.F. Stallions 4 (9 innings)
Stallions 000 030 100 – 4 8 4
010 110 101 – 5 6 2
Gareth Bernard, LP – Zach Puckett
– Elyjah Collins 0-5, Austin Kinamen 0-5, Lucas Poitra 2-4, Rick Bailey 3-5,
Billy Ivers 0-3, Colton Phillips 1-3, Josh Oatman 1-5, Erik Willis 0-5, Gabe
Justin Jensen 0-4, Mark Vukasin 1-4 (RBI), Brandon Smith 1-4, Kolby Sukut 1-5,
Colt Young 0-2, Gareth Bernard 1-4, Justin Denny 0-2, Thurman Holdsclaw 0-4,
Spencer Morkrid 2-3.
2B – Bailey, Vukasin, 3B – Collins.
North Stars 12, G.F. Stallions 2 (6 innings)
Stallions 001 010 – 2 6 3
510 114 – 12 14 2
Justin Jensen, LP – Quade Hamrell
– El;yjah Collins 2-3, Colton Phillips 1-3, Lucas Poitra 0-3, Erik Bailey 0-3,
Zach puckett 0-3, Billy Ivers 0-1, Gabe Kuntz 1-3, Ryan O’Connel 1-2, Chris
Giles 1-2, Quest Fellows 0-2.
Justin Jensen 2-3, Mark Vukasin 2-4, Brandon Smith 2-4 (4 RBI), Kolby Sukut
0-2, Colt Young 0-3, Garreth Bernard 3-4 (4 RBI), Justin Denny 1-4, Thurman
Holdsclaw 0-1, Matt Hanley 0-2, Chance Pitkanen 0-2, Chris Vukasin 2-2.
2B – Collins, Vukasin, Smith, Bernard.