Ireland and Lipp shut out Great Falls in doubleheader
By Kim Staudinger
The Havre Northstars' Doug Ireland tossed the first no-hitter of his career Sunday afternoon against Great Falls at Legion Field in the second game of a doubleheader.
Ireland needed only 84 pitches to shut out the Sparkies, who were also shut out in the first game as Eric Lipp threw a two-hitter.
The Northstars won the first game 14-0 and the second 11-0. Both games were called after five innings due to a 10-run rule.
Ireland, who pitched a one-hitter last season, was an unforgiving force on the mound, striking out seven and walking two. Ireland allowed just one batter to reach third base and one to get to second.
"I had good speed, good location," Ireland said. "I lost it in the fourth inning a little but they didn't make me pay for it."
Lipp was also dominating, striking out four and walking three.
"I was just hitting my spots," Lipp said. "I was trying to keep the ball low to the ground."
Said Northstars' coach Mickey Williams: "I was pleased with Eric's and Doug's pitching. They haven't pitched in two weeks." Despite Lipp and Ireland not having seen much time on the mound, Williams said, "I expect (the strong pitching) from those two kids."
The strong pitching is something Northstars players and coaches are used to. Ireland said some of his teammates didn't even know he had a no-hitter going.
Williams said after the game that at first he didn't realize Ireland hadn't given up a hit.
The Northstars jumped out on top of Great Falls early in the second game, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Shortstop Ian Spencer had the big hit in the inning, a two-RBI single with one out, scoring Danny Wirtzberger and Dusty Heath.
Heath started the scoring in the inning by driving in Mark Benjamin on a double.
Spencer later advanced on a single by Lipp and scored on an error by the centerfielder.
After scoring one run in the second, the Northstars exploded for a six-run fourth inning on four hits. Great Falls committed three errors in the inning.
Wirtzberger crushed his second triple of the game in the fourth inning, scoring catcher Garrett Drake, who led off with a single. Wirtzberger took advantage of a defensive lapse by the Sparkies and scored as Heath fouled out to the pitcher.
A combination of two singles, three walks, three Great Falls errors, two passed balls and four wild pitches aided the Northstars in scoring their next four runs.
Wirtzberger and Lipp each went 2-for-2 in the game. Wirtzberger had two triples, walked once, drove in one run and scored three times. Lipp had two singles, one walk, one RBI and one run scored. Spencer followed with a 2-for-3 effort with two singles, two RBIs and two runs scored.
In the first game, Great Falls pitcher David Romsa ran into some bad luck, allowing six runs to score on five hits and three errors.
"I thought he pitched pretty well," Williams said. "His defense just let him down at times."
Ireland helped out his pitching buddy in the first game with a two-RBI single in the bottom of the first.
Both runs the Northstars scored in the second inning were unearned.
Bobby Bergren lit up the stands in the bottom of the third with a leadoff home run. Bergren's shot cleared the right field fence.
Graham Lee came on in relief of Romsa in the fourth inning only to allow seven runs and getting one out. Jake Wichman came on in relief and gave up one more run before closing out the inning.
Tyson Roe capped the inning with a bases-loaded triple to left-center field. Heath and Lipp hit RBI singles in the inning and Daine Solomon drove in one on a ground out.
Wirtzberger led the Northstars with a 2-for-3 game with two runs scored, and Steve Heberly followed with a 2-for-4 game with three runs scored.
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David Romsa, Graham Lee (4), Jake Wichman (4) and Chris Mooney; Eric Lipp and Garrett Drake.
HR Bobby Bergren.
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Gregg Altringer, Tyler Wittaker (4), Jake Wichman (4) and Mike Labelle; Doug Ireland and Garrett Drake.