Bitterroot Valley overcomes first-game loss to secure title
BELGRADE After the Havre Northstars lost their first game of the American Legion Class A state baseball tournament last week, it appeared the team may be headed for an early exit.
Instead, the Northstars nearly made the most of their trip.
Havre completed its trek through the consolation bracket to reach Wednesday's tournament title game showdown against Bitterroot Valley, and appeared as if it could win the state championship the hard way after winning 5-4 to force a decisive final game for all the marbles.
Bitterroot Valley, which Havre would have had to beat twice to earn the title, didn't panic and jumped ahead early en route to a 12-2 eight-inning win in the rematch and claimed the state championship.
Havre's season ended with a 48-19 record. Bitterroot Valley will represent Montana in the Class A regional tournament Aug. 15-21 in Powell, Wyo.
After staking itself to a 2-0 lead in the second, Bitterroot Valley unleashed a seven-run third inning that effectively ended Havre's chances to win the title.
A walk and two errors loaded the bases for Red Sox catcher Kevin Lokken, who bombed a grand slam off Havre pitcher Doug Ireland to give his team a 6-0 lead.
Another Northstars error set up a run-scoring double by Kyle Melton before Daren Olson and Shane Fisk had back-to-back RBI singles to push the lead to 9-0.
Jordan Anderson and Kyle Sheppard had RBI singles in the fifth and seventh innings, respectively, to account for the Northstars' only two runs.
Bitterroot starter Bobby Louviere went the distance for the Red Sox, allowing 10 hits and three walks in eight innings. He struck out eight.
Ireland lasted just 2 2/3 innings and took the loss. He surrendered eight hits and nine runs five earned and struck out three.
Mike Kellam pitched five innings in relief for Havre and allowed three runs and nine hits.
Olson went 4-for-6 with two RBI, and Richard Kraude was 3-for-5 for the Red Sox. Fisk, Lokken, Melton and Justin Bargfrede each had two hits.
C.J. Reichelt paced Havre's 10-hit attack with a 3-for-4 effort, and Kellam and Sheppard each had two hits.
HAVRE 5, BITTERROOT VALLEY 4 The Northstars forced a second championship game behind the complete-game effort of pitcher David Knight, who held the Red Sox scoreless for the final five innings.
Havre committed eight errors, but its offense mustered 11 hits and took advantage of six errors by the Red Sox to rally from an early deficit.
After scoring a run in the fifth and sixth innings to tie the game at 4-all, Havre punched in another run in the eighth to take the lead for good.
After Dusty Heath reached on an error and advanced to second on a groundout, Anderson singled to right field to score Heath and give Havre a one-run advantage.
Knight, who scattered eight hits and allowed just one earned run, overcame the eighth error by his defense to lead off the ninth to set the Red Sox down in order to preserve the victory.
Havre took advantage of three errors and two hits to score twice in the second and claim a 2-1 lead. Kellam had an RBI single in the inning.
But the Red Sox scored two runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 3-2 lead and added another run in the fourth to extend the lead to two.
Garrett Hanson hit into a fielder's choice to drive in a run in the fifth for the Northstars, and Havre tied the game at 4-4 in the sixth when Reichelt scored on an error.
Anderson finished 3-for-5 with two RBI, and Sheppard, Kellam and Reichelt each had two hits for Havre.
Fisk, Melton and Joe Franklin had two hits apiece for Bitterroot Valley.
Knight and Wirtzberger, Hanson (2); Olson and Lokken.
Ireland, Kellam (3), Anderson (8) and Hanson; Louviere and Lokken.