Two Havre teams scheduled to meet in North District semis tonight at Legion Field at 6 p.m.
By Jason Shoot
The matchup may have looked very lopsided on paper with the top-seeded Havre Northstars facing the No. 8-seed Fort Macleod Royals, but Havre coach Mickey Williams was certain his team was in for a dogfight.
He certainly got that, but Havre's might and balance proved to be too much over the course of nine innings in a 9-6 win over the Royals in Game 4 of the North District Baseball Tournament at Legion Field Thursday night.
Havre moved into a second-round game against the Havre Comets in a 6 p.m. contest tonight. Fort Macleod slipped into the loser's bracket and faced Vauxhall in a loser-out game earlier today at noon.
After Fort Macleod roughed up Havre starter Doug Ireland for four runs in the fourth to take a 6-5 lead, the Northstars pulled together in virtually every facet of the game and seized control.
After Kyle Sheppard tied the game at 6-all with a run-scoring double in the bottom of the fourth, Havre added three runs in the fifth to take a 9-6 lead.
The Northstars had just one hit in the fifth and instead took advantage of three Fort Macleod errors to spark the outburst.
Danny Wirtzberger drove in a run to give Havre a 7-6 lead, and Royals second baseman Archie Craig had a blast by Sheppard glance off the heel of his glove to allow two more runs to score and let the Northstars take a 9-6 lead.
Meanwhile, Ireland had settled down and did not allow a run over the final five innings. Fort Macleod mustered just two hits and advanced a runner as far as third base the rest of the way.
Ireland said he had to regain his focus after surrendering the four runs in the fourth.
"You've got to forget everything that happened and start all over with the game 0-0," he said. "If you keep thinking about it, you get more frustrated and leave them more balls to hit."
Ireland pitched all nine innings and struck out eight. He gave up nine hits and walked three.
Fort Macleod scored two first-inning runs, but Havre came back with a run in each of the first and second innings to tie the game at 2-2.
Havre scored three runs in the third to take a 5-2 lead on an RBI double by C.J. Reichelt and run-scoring singles by Mike Kellam and Dusty Heath, but the Royals came back with their fourth inning to snare the lead for themselves.
Craig drove in two runs with a base hit up the middle, and Dan McTighe punched in two more with a single into right field to give the Royals their one-run lead at 6-5.
Reichelt, whom Williams said prior to the tournament was going to be a key for his team offensively, went 2-for-4 with an RBI to lead the Northstars' offense.
"He was a huge key, and we needed that from him," Williams said. "He's swinging the bat well. We changed some things in his hitting style. He was free swinging, and we told him to pick a spot to hit the ball to. Now he puts the bat through three planes instead of one. He's a better two-strike hitter.
"He's worked at it, and it's paid off."
Jordan Anderson was also issued three walks for Havre.
McTighe led the Royals with a 3-for-5 effort with two RBI.
Scobie, Kenly (3) and Payne; Ireland and Hanson.
COMETS 4, VAUXHALL 1 The basic goal behind the Havre Comets and their roster full of 16-year-olds is to work on their fundamentals and get them prepared to play for the Havre Northstars for the next two seasons.
With the kinks worked out during the regular season, though, the Comets have something else in mind for this season.
Havre climbed one notch closer to achieving the first state berth in the team's brief three-year history with a convincing, well-played 4-1 victory over Vauxhall in Game 3 of the North District Baseball Tournament Thursday night.
The Comets will now face their biggest hurdle of the season in the Northstars, who have won all four of their meetings this season. The game is slated for 6 p.m.
Vauxhall squared off with Fort Macleod in a loser-out game at noon today.
Doubts surfaced before the game when it was announced Havre's starting pitcher, Tyler Thompson, was battling through slight effects resulting from mononucleosis.
But by the end of the first inning, it was clear Thompson wasn't about to let a little case of mono slow him down.
Thompson, who threw just 100 pitches, manhandled Vauxhall's lineup for eight scoreless innings before settling for a complete game with six strikeouts. He gave up just one earned run, six hits and no walks.
"I'm not too sick, and the doctor said I could play," Thompson said. "My offspeed pitches were working pretty good today."
And except for a couple harmless errors in the third, Havre's defense was spectacular. Vauxhall sent no more than five batters to the plate in particular inning, and Thompson set the Spurs down in order in five of the nine innings.
"The kids played well," Havre coach Bob Evans said. "It was the pitching that did it and our defense. We had some great pitching, and the kids played good defense."
Havre catcher Garrett Drake, who had an RBI single in the fifth, said he's looking forward to the fifth meeting with the Northstars and added he's not intimidated and his teammates shouldn't be either.
"We've played them four times and led two games, I think, in the seventh," he said. "We gotta come out and play the full nine innings."
Steve Heberly paced the Comets' nine-hit attack with a 3-for-4 effort and was just a home run short of hitting for the cycle. He also drove in two runs and scored a pair of his own.
"I hit pretty good today," he said, adding the contest against the Northstars doesn't put any pressure on the Comets' shoulders. "No one expects us to beat them. We're just going to go out and try our hardest."
Daine Solomon and Mark Benjamin each went 2-for-3 for Havre, and Drake and Cory Junck each finished 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Havre scored the first run in the first after Heberly doubled and Junck drove him in with a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.
Heberly then drove in Benjamin with an RBI single in the third to give the Comets a 2-0 lead before Havre grabbed a safe lead with two more runs in the fifth.
Heberly hammered a run-scoring triple to drive in Benjamin again with Havre's third run, and Drake followed with his RBI single to put the Comets ahead 4-0.
Vauxhall scored its lone run in the ninth on Adam Kapcsos's one-out RBI triple, but Thompson followed that with a strikeout and induced a game-ending flyout.
Kapcsos and Rory Brown each went 2-for-4 to pace the Spurs.
A. Kapcsos and Bowman, Ellis (8); Thompson and Drake.