By Havre rallies back from 15-5 deficit to eliminate Miners from tournament
BELGRADE Since their regular season ended a few weeks ago, the Havre Northstars have not enjoyed meeting Lethbridge in the postseason.
After all, the Miners twice defeated Havre in the North District Baseball Tournament to claim the district crown and appeared Tuesday to have the Northstars down for the count in the consolation final at the Class A state baseball tournament.
A victory would propel the winner into the state championship game against Bitterroot Valley, and Lethbridge seemed headed to that fate with a 15-5 lead in the fourth inning.
The Northstars' response? Big deal.
Mike Kellam and Jared Boyce combined to hold the Miners scoreless the remainder of the game, and Havre scored eight runs in the eighth inning to storm ahead and crush the Miners' title hopes with a thrilling 20-15 win.
Havre will face Bitterroot Valley at 4 p.m. today in the state championship game. Should the Northstars win, that would force a second title game slated for 7 p.m.
Havre cut the Miners' lead to 15-12 with three runs in the bottom of the seventh, and after Kellam finished his stellar performance in relief on the mound 4 1/3 innings pitched, two hits and two walks allowed and one strikeout
and held Lethbridge scoreless in the top of the eighth, the Northstars' offense went to work.
Havre's first three batters in the inning all reached base safely before Jordan Anderson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive in C.J. Reichelt and make the score 15-13.
Dusty Heath then scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to one, and Boyce earned a walk to load the bases again.
Kyle Sheppard walked to drive in Danny Wirtzberger with the game-tying run, and after a strikeout, Garrett Hanson ripped an RBI single to put the Northstars on top 16-15.
Kellam then followed with a two-run single, and an error and a run-scoring groundout by Reichelt gave Havre a five-run cushion entering the ninth.
Boyce, who was pitching in his third game of the tournament and had already pitched a complete game against Belgrade earlier in the day, struck out two en route to a perfect ninth inning to preserve the victory.
After Havre rallied from a 3-0 deficit with a five-run second inning to stake a 5-3 lead, Lethbridge seized control with a nine-run third and three more runs in the fourth.
Havre pitcher David Knight suffered the wrath of the Miners' bats as he surrendered 12 runs nine earned and 10 hits in just 2 2/3 innings of work before being replaced by Kellam.
Havre scored a run in the fourth to cut the gap to 15-6, and the Northstars capitalized on three Lethbridge errors in the fifth to put three more runs on the board and close within 15-9.
In the seventh, Anderson had an RBI single, and Knight punctuated the Northstars' three-run inning with a two-run double to help Havre climb within 15-12.
Every Havre batter had a hit in the Northstars' 16-hit attack. Boyce was 3-for-4 with three RBI, and Anderson, Sheppard and Knight each had two hits and three runs batted in for Havre.
Jeff Baldwin drove in four runs for Lethbridge, and Logan Lavorato and J.P. Leclair each had three hits and two RBI.