Having not yet seen the conference rival Medicine Hat Knights this season, the possible results between the Havre North Stars and Knights was somewhat in question prior to Sundays doubleheader.
But in two very different games at Legion Field in Havre, the North Stars earned two more wins.
In game one of the afternoon, the North Stars defeated the Knights 16-10 in seven innings. And in game two, the North Stars earned a 13-1 win in in just five innings. The two wins give the North Stars a conference record of 7-3 and an overall record of 7
In the first game, the young Havre squad earned a statement win.
“This is a good team we were playing,” North Star head coach Danny Wirtzberger said. “They were banging the baseball all over the field, and for us to come back and win in dominating fashion like that was a statement. That tells the rest of the conference that we are here.”
The North Stars erupted to a 7-0 lead in the first inning, and eventually led 8-3 after three innings were in the books. But the Knights never let up, and in the fourth inning they chiseled the lead before taking over 10-8. The Knights put together six runs on five hits in the frame, and looked to have taken over the momentum.
But the North Stars didn’t show any signs of quitting either.
In the fourth inning, Spencer Morkrid grabbed an RBI single, while Dane Linquist scored on Knights’ throwing error. And in the fifth inning, The North Stars grabbed two more points. This time Brandon Smith had an RBI triple and later scored from third on a pick off attempt to second. And to top it off, Havre added four more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to ensure the win. Smith had another RBI on a single, and Mark Vukasin grabbed two RBIs on a triple. Chris Vukasin also got an RBI in the inning.
Justin Jensen was on the mound for the North Stars and pitched six innings for the win. Jensen faced 34 batters and racked up 103 pitches. Jensen hurled 68 strikes with one strikeout, but walked just one as well. He did give up 15 hits and 10 runs, but got solid run support by the offense.
Morkrid was 4-for-4 with three RBIs for the North Stars, while Smith and Mark Vukasin also both went 3-of-4 with three RBIs each. Gareth Bernard was 2-for-4, while Jensen, Chris Vukasin, David Denny and Linquist all had one hit each.
“I tell the guys before every game that there is going to be adversity,” Wirtzberger said. “14 innings is a long day, so there are ups and downs, and it all depends on just how you rect.”
In the nightcap, the North Stars grabbed another big time win, but this time in a much more dominating fashion.
This time Smith was on the mound for Havre and mowed through the batters. Smith pitched all five innings and gave up just one run on three hits. He also struck out eight batters and walked zero.
“Brandon (Smith) came in and just shut that team down,” Wirtzberger said. “He is that good. We were excited to see how he came in and played.”
Pitching was key in the game two win, but the hot bats stayed hot and ensured the win in abbreviated fashion. Havre came together for five more hits and totaled 13 runs. And when the North Stars weren’t hitting the ball, they were putting together smart at-bats. Havre batters were walked eight times
The North Stars scored one run in the first inning, three in the second, six in the third and three more in the fourth. Smith, Mark Vukasin, Thurman Holdsclaw, Ned Malone and Tyrell Pierce all had a hit. Jensen and Bernard both had two RBIs each, while Pierce’s triple scored two. Jensen and Holdsclaw were both walked twice.
Both wins were impressive by the North Stars, and was a perfect way to end the home stand. Havre will now take to the road for nearly a month, heading out with solid pitching, great defense and consistent bats.
“I am pretty excited to get away from home for a bit. A lot of our guys do field work for us, and sometimes it is just a little bit more relaxing when you go on the road and just get to play. We just get to play baseball so we are excited to go on this month long road trip,” Wirtzberger said.
The North Stars travel to Conrad for a Northern A doubleheader against Tri-County on Thursday, then travel to Billings for a tournament Friday-Sunday
North Stars 16, Medicine Hat 10
Medicine Hat 003 600 1 – 10 15 6
Havre 710 224 x – 16 16 0
WP – Justin Jensen; LP – B. Schafer
Havre – Justin Jensen 1-4 RBI, Gareth Bernard 2-4, Brandon Smith 3-4 3RBIs, Mark Vukasin 3-4 3RBIs, Chris Vukasin 1-5, Thurman Holdsclaw 0-4 RBI, David Denny 1-5, Dane Linquist 1-3, Spencer Morkrid 4-4 3RBIs.
Medicine Hat – K. Florkowski 1-4 RBI, K. Ellefson 2-5, L. Aman 2-5 2RBIs, J. Logan 1-3 2RBIs, B. Schafer 3-3 2RBIs, C. Rayner 3-4 2RBIs, M. Monti 1-3 RBI, K. Lutz 0-4, R. Mcdonnell 2-3, L. Stehr 0-1.
North Stars 13, Medicine Hat 1
Medicine Hat 000 010 x – 1 3 3
Havre 136 3xx x – 13 5 0
WP – Brandon Smith; LP – M. Stark
Havre – Justin Jensen 0-1 2RBIs, Gareth Bernard 0-2 2RBIs, Brandon Smith 1-3 2RBIs, Mark Vukasin 1-3, Chris Vukasin 0-3, Thurman Holdsclaw 1-1, Jace Kato 0-2, Ned Malone 1-1, Chris Pitkanan 0-1, Tyrell Pierce 1-1 2RBI
Medicine Hat - K. Florkowski 1-2, I. Hong 0-2, L. Aman 0-2, J. Logan 1-2, B. Schafer 1-2 RBI, M. Close 0-2, R. Mcdonnell 0-1, E. Weliford 0-2, D. Bowyer 0-2, M. Stark 0-1.