With the district tournament looming just a week away, every win and loss plays a major role in the final standings. And sitting on the bubble in between third and fourth place, the Havre North Stars American Legion did manage to earn another league split.
Thursday night in Havre, the No. 3 North Stars hosted the No. 2 Vauxhall Spurs at Legion Field for a district doubleheader. The North Stars defeated the Spurs 6-5 in game one, but the Spurs defeated the North Stars 15-0 in the second game.
“We got three out of four on them this season, so that says something,” North Star head coach Danny Wirtzberger said. “I think they will finish up second and we will finish up third. They have deep pitching, deeper than us, and we were saving Brandon (Smith) and Justin (Jensen). That second game was kind of a crusher, but we are glad to get the split.”
The win in game one of the afternoon came in dramatic fashion for the North Stars.
And not only was it dramatic fashion, it came in comeback fashion as well. Heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, the Spurs led 5-4. Vauxhall overtook Havre earlier in the game, and looked poised to steal the win. But Thurman Holdsclaw led off the inning with a single, and Brandon Smith followed with a single of his own. Holdsclaw advanced to third and Smith advanced to second on an Spurs’ throwing error, leaving the door wide open for a comeback. Mark Vukasin took full advantage of his at bat, crushing the ball to deep center field, driving in two runs on the standup double, and giving the North Stars the 6-5, walk off win.
“That felt really good,” Vukasin said. “I just relaxed and did what I knew how to do. More than anything, I just wanted to get on base.”
Prior to the seventh inning, the North Stars scored one run in the first inning, one in the third and two in the sixth. The Spurs earned one run in the fourth inning, but had a four run sixth, overtaking the North Stars and the lead.
Havre had a total of six hits in the game, and had just three prior to the seventh inning. The offense was limited in their production, but did just enough to take down the Spurs’ offense that put together 11 hits. Vukasin had the best outing for the North Stars, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Justin Jensen, Holdsclaw, Smith and Gareth Bernard all had one hit each.
Vukasin was also the starting pitcher, and pitched the first six innings. He faced 32 batters, walking just two and striking gout five. Smith relieved Vukasin in the seventh, and earned the win after facing four batters and allowing no runs.
“Mark (Vukasin) pitched a great game.” Wirtzberger said. “I can’t say enough good things about what he did today, and then he was able to come away with the walk off hit for the win. The day was his in that first game.”
Game two of the afternoon wasn’t as pleasant for the North Stars, as they got shutout 15-0.
Havre’s lack of pitching depth proved to be the biggest difference. Spencer Ross got the start, but was relieved by Tyrell Pierce after walking two and giving up two hits in the first four Spurs at bats. Ross was credited with giving up four runs, while Pierce lasted just one inning, and gave up six earned runs. Chris Vukasin also got a shot on the mound and pitched four innings. Chris Vukasin gave up three runs and 10 hits.
The North Stars also had just two hits. Smith had one hit and Chance Pitkanan had one, while scoring no runs. The Spurs on the other hand, scored their 15 runs on 13 hits.
“We got some of our young guys in the game and they get quality playing time,” Wirtzberger said. “They are the guys that will be playing next year, so hopefully next year there will be time to learn how to win without our top four guys.”
Havre will be right back into action today as they wrap up the regular season with two games on the road against Tri-County in Conrad.
North Stars 6, Vauxhall 5
Vauxhall 000 104 0 – 5 11 4
Havre 101 002 2 – 6 6 2
WP – Brandon Smith; LP – L Kress
Vauxhall – Levi Kress 2-3 2RBI, Branden Ohashi 2-4, Caleb Zsednai 1-4, Dustin Conquergood 1-4 2RBI, Kaden Odland 0-4, Adam Kress 0-4, Colyn Cleland 2-3, Jason Wong 1-3, Nolan Gilbertson 2-4 RBI
Havre – Justin Jensen 1-2, Thurman Holdsclaw 1-2, Brandon Smith 1-3, Mark Vukasin 2-4 3RBI, Chris Vukasin 0-1, Gareth Bernard 1-3, David Denny 0-1, Tyrell Pierce 0-3 RBI, Spencer Ross 0-3 RBI, Ned Malone 0-1.
Vauxhall 15, North Stars 0 5 innings
Vauxhall 740 13x x – 15 13 1
Havre 000 00x x – 0 2 1
WP – D Conquergood ; LP – Spencer Ross
Vauxhall – Levi Kress 1-3, Branden Ohashi 0-2, Caleb Zsednai 2-2, Dustin Conquergood 1-3 2RBI, Kaden Odland 2-2 RBI, Adam Kress 2-4 3RBI, Colyn Cleland 4-4 3RBI, Jason Wong 1-3 2RBI, Brody Knouse 0-3 RBI, Matt Perin 0-1, Chad Harbinson 0-1 RBI
Havre – Justin Jensen 0-3, Thurman Holdsclaw 0-1, Brandon Smith 1-2, Mark Vukasin 0-2, Gareth Bernard 0-2, Jase Kato 0-2, Kody Hickman 0-2, Chris Vukasin 0-2, Chance Pitkanan 1-1, Dane Linquist 0-1