By Kim Staudinger
After a hearty scoring outburst last weekend in Great Falls, the Havre Northstars were looking for two more wins Sunday against their Havre rival, the Comets.
While the Northstars didn't quite score the 45 runs in two games they did against the Great Falls Sparkies, they came close, scoring 33 in the two six-inning games.
Backed by strong pitching, the Northstars (4-0) allowed only three hits in the first game en route to an 11-0 shutout. The Comets (0-2) jumped out on top in the first inning of the second game, but were unable to hold the lead. They lost the second game of the doubleheader 22-8.
Taking a 4-0 lead into the fourth inning of the first game, the Northstars exploded for seven runs on four hits. Tyler VanderMars sparked the Northstars' fire with a three-run home run over the left-center field fence. Dusty Heath added a two-RBI triple in the inning to give the Northstars an 11-0 lead.
In the second game, the Comets scored twice in the first inning as Patch Wirtzberger led off with a triple and catcher Levi Briese followed with a double to drive him in. Briese later scored on a sacrifice fly by Tony Ricci.
The Northstars responded with back-to-back seven-run innings, giving them a 14-5 lead after two innings. In the Northstars' first inning, Garrett Drake, Mark Benjamin and Chris Chandler each hit triples and scored. Drake added a single later in the inning for his second hit.
The big fireworks came in the second inning as Daine Solomon crushed a ball down the left-field line for a solo home run to lead off the inning. Solomon said after the game that he got a pitch up and in a little and simply turned on it. Solomon finished the game with five RBIs.
The Comets scattered seven hits over the next five innings to score six runs. But it wasn't enough as the Northstars kept pounding the ball.
Tyler Thompson led off the third inning with a solo, inside the park home run, giving the Northstars a 10-run lead. The Northstars scored three more runs in the inning and four more in the fourth to shut down the Comets.
Defense and a few mental mistakes are what really hurt the Comets, coach Bob Evans said. He added that his team needs to be prepared for a faster style of play at the Legion level.
"This is a new experience for them," Evans said. "They've got to learn how to compete above the Babe Ruth level. They need to work on stepping it up to the next level.
"If we could have made a few of those plays defensively, it would have been a whole different ballgame. We have to work on our defense."
Despite giving up 33 runs, many of which were unearned, Evans said he feels he has a strong pitching staff.
"I think I'm going to have a really good, strong pitching staff," he said. "I just have to come up with a strong defensive team. I'm still not sure where I'm going to place everybody."