Northstars ride timely hitting, solid pitching to 9-0 shutout victory over Comets
After weeks of anticipation, the lights were finally turned on last night at Legion Field, a lasting tribute to the memory of youngster Brian Fanning, a lifelong fan of Havre baseball stricken down last year by a brain infection.
Havre Northstars coach Mickey Williams emceed a ceremony before the lights illuminated the field in front of a large crowd at the stadium. He thanked the many supporters who made the project a success, as well as Dave and Diane Fanning, Brian's parents, who initiated the project.
Williams also spent time talking about his relationship with Brian, whom he considered a very close friend and someone he wishes he had the opportunity to know a little better, if not longer.
"This was a very special night tonight," Williams said.
Oh, by the way, the Northstars also shut out the Comets 9-0 in a four-inning game behind an aggressive offense and crafty pitching by four pitchers that held the younger Comets to just two hits.
The Northstars jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning on a run-scoring groundout by C.J. Reichelt and a two-out RBI single by David Knight.
A two-run single by Kevin Jurenka in the second pushed the lead to 3-0, and the Northstars punched in two more runs in the third on a sacrifice fly by Garrett Hanson and an RBI triple by Dustin Heath.
In the fourth inning, the Northstars capitalized on three errors the Comets finished with five in the game to score three unearned runs and finish the game with the nine-run win.
"I'm excited; I think this is going to be a great year," Williams said, noting his team executed his game plan to perfection. "We're going to be very aggressive and try to manufacture some runs, and we did that."
Kyle Sheppard, Knight, Eric Lipp and Doug Ireland were effective against the Comets, recording a total of nine strikeouts and issuing no walks. In fact, Knight and Lipp each struck out the side in the second and third innings, respectively.
"We struck out too much," Comets coach Bob Evans Sr. said matter-of-factly.
"(Our pitching was) very good," Williams said. "Pitching is our mainstay this year. We go six deep with four starters and two backups."
The Comets had few scoring opportunities, and the best chance they had came in the fourth inning.
After Daine Solomon was hit by a pitch, Adam Jensen hit a roller back to the mound. Ireland turned to throw our Solomon at second, but the ball sailed a little left of second base.
Northstars shortstop Mike Kellam was unable to hang on to the ball, but still felt he had time throw out Jensen at first. Reichelt was unable to field the ball cleanly at first, allowing it to roll into shallow left field.
Solomon was hustling around third, but Reichelt retrieved the ball and fired a laser beam to catcher Garrett Hanson to tag out the Comets baserunner and end the threat.
That play was indicative of the Comets' fortunes last night.
"It was our first time out (under the lights), and we were a little jittery," Evans said. "It was their first taste of what we call big league' stuff. But I don't feel bad how they played. Some kids played pretty well, and and now some other kids have to step it up."