By Kim Staudinger
Havre catcher Garrett Drake said Tuesday after the Comets beat Medicine Hat in two games that they couldn't take their Wednesday doubleheader with first-year team Tri-County lightly.
If his teammates had heard him, maybe things would have been different.
The Comets were on a hot streak heading into the American Legion doubleheader at Legion Field in Havre. But they were quickly cooled off by the young Cardinals, who despite losing the opener 10-0, defeated the Comets, 6-2, in the nightcap.
Backed by Trent Normandy's strong pitching, Havre cruised to a win in the first game.
Then, in game two, the Cardinals' pitching took over. Pitcher Adam Preitaur held Havre to just four hits in seven innings in the contest as Tri-County earned a split with the Comets.
"The kids just didn't get any hits (in the second game)," Comets coach Bob Evans said. "We had six baserunners the whole ballgame. You can't win many games with only six men on base."
Evans also credited Preitaur's tough pitching as a contributor to the Havre loss.
"He was a smart, young pitcher. He pitched really well," Evans said. "He kept us off stride. The kids didn't adjust to him at all."
Drake led off the game with a single. An error by Preitaur allowed Drake to advance to third. Drake scored on a groundout by Normandy, giving the Comets an early 1-0 lead.
Drake's single was the only hit for Havre until Kaare Engebretson and Chris Chandler both singled in the fifth. A combination of wild pitches and passed balls allowed Engebretson to score.
A pinch hit by Chazz Hurlburt in the sixth inning accounted for the only other Havre hit.
Tri-County showed patience at the plate, totaling seven walks.
Four of the free passes came in the fourth inning when the Cardinals scored two runs on one hit. They left the bases loaded.
A costly two-out error in the sixth gave the Comets a nearly impossible deficit to overcome. The throwing error by pitcher Brandon Morse allowed two runs to score and gave the Cardinals a 6-2 lead. Morse recovered to strike out the next batter to end the inning.
"We needed that win pretty bad," Evans said. "Two wins would have cinched fifth place for us but we just didn't get it done."
Tri-County also scored two runs in the third inning on back-to-back RBI singles by Luke Alford and Deen Gordon.
"We didn't play very well," Evans said. "We didn't deserve to win."
In the first game, Normandy tossed a three-hit shutout and struck out eight. Havre played errorless ball and smashed 14 hits.
Havre scored five runs on six hits and one Tri-County error in the fourth inning, giving the Comets an 8-0 lead. Six straight singles by Engebretson, Patch Wirtzberger, Drake, Chandler, Hurlburt and Ben Mader sparked the scoring.
Wirtzberger started the bottom of the fifth inning with a single. He stole second and scored on a single by Hurlburt. Mader doubled home Hurlburt, forcing the 10-run rule and ending the game.
The doubleheader marked the last home games of the year for the Comets, who are at Lethbridge Saturday and Fort MacLeod Sunday to wrap up the regular season.