The Havre North Stars American Legion baseball team continued to write the same story over the weekend, proving that when they play well they can beat anybody in the district. But they also showed that too many costly mistakes expose their youth, and can result in devastating losses.
Friday, the No. 6 North Stars hosted the No. 1 Lethbridge Miners for two district games at Legion Field in Havre.
And while the Miners were able to defeat the North Stars 9-0 in the first game, Havre bounced back in the nightcap. In game two of the afternoon, the North Stars won 12-7
It was an impressive win by the North Stars, as they played without Thurman Holdsclaw the last four games.
“This win really helps our confidence,” North Stars head coach Danny Wirtzberger said. “We have only not beaten one team in the district, and this was the No. 1 team. If we can beat them, we can beat anybody. When we get the right guy on the mound throwing strikes, we are a pretty good ball club.”
After recording just two total hits in the first game, the North Stars brought their bats in game two. Havre racked up 12 runs, scoring in four of the six innings, and tallying an impressive 16 hits. The North Stars earned 10 hits off of the Miners’ starting pitcher, Jordyn Johnson, and chased him off the mound after just three innings of work. Reliever Carter Witbeck didn’t do much better against the North Stars, as he gave up another six hits and five earned runs to the red-hot North Stars.
And the North Stars didn’t waste any time getting runs on the board.
Havre led 3-0 after one inning and 5-1 after two innings. And though the Miners closed the Havre gap to 5-3 through three complete innings, the North Stars had enough firepower to close out the game.
In the fourth inning, the North Stars scored four runs, on two hits and one Lethbridge error. Jase Kato started the inning with a base hit, and David Denny followed suit with a base on balls. At that point Letbridge made the pitching change, earning two straight fly outs. But with two outs, Spencer Ross earned a walk to load the bases. Deion Hammet then came up with one of his biggest hits of the season, earning a three RBI double, and giving the North Stars an 8-5 advantage. Hammet later scored on the Miners’ error, giving Havre the 9-5 lead.
Havre led 12-5 heading into the top of the seventh inning, and Lethbridge did make things interesting.
Instead of rolling over, the Miners came out swinging. There was a groundout to start the inning, but the Miners’ Eric Davies and Bryce DeBoer grabbed back-to-back triples, while Lethbridge followed with an RBI base hit and had a batter hit by a pitch. The Havre lead was narrowed to 12-7, and the Miners had two runners on, with just one out, but Havre’s Gavin Gunderson settled in on the mound and earned two straight fly-outs to end the game and seal the victory.
Gunderson pitched seven complete innings, giving up 14 hits, but walked just one.
Roth helped lead the North Stars with four hits and three RBIs, but Hammet grabbed four RBIs of his own on a 2-for-3 afternoon. Ryne Antley had three hits and one RBI, while Gunderson, Kato, and Denny had two hits each and combined for three more RBIs. Ross had one hit as well.
“Yeah that felt good,” Hammet said. “I have been working on my hitting all season, and I finally feel like I broke out. I have just been trying to make contact, trying to hit a gapper or a blooper, really just anything to help the team out. And we are all very happy to get this win too, it really fired us all up.
“We had nothing to lose,” Wirtzberger added. “Hitting is contagious, and it starts with the first guy. If a couple of guys get hits, it seems like everybody gets a couple of hits.”
Game 1 of the afternoon was nearly the complete opposite for the North Stars, as two hits and zero runs resulted in the lopsided loss to the Miners. Lethbridge pitcher Logan Bell gave up two hits and walked just one. He also earned three strikeouts in a complete seven-inning outing. Bell threw a perfect game for the first innings against the North Stars.
Pierce was on the mound for Havre, but gave up 12 hits, nine runs — eight earned — and three walks. Pierce did strike out five, but the defense also had two errors. The North Stars had zero errors in the second game victory. Roth and Gunderson had one hit each for Havre.
Because of the split Friday, the Miners find themselves tied for first place in the district with Medicine Hat. Friday was supposed to be the regular season finale for both teams, but because of the tie, the Miners and North Stars will make up two games canceled because of weather earlier this season today in Lethbridge. Doubleheader action began at 1 p.m. Havre will then travel to Vauxhall for the Northern District Tournament, which starts Thursday.
Lethbridge 9, Havre 0
Lethbridge 012 501 0 – 9 12 0
Havre 000 000 0 – 0 2 2
WP – Logan Bell; LP – Tyrell Pierce
Lethbridge – Ankerman 2-3 RBI, Grandmont 3-4, Wibeak 2-4 2RBI, Davies 0-3 RBI, Strate 0-3, Holt 1-4, Carpenter 0-4, Hubika 0-2, Tomiyama 1-3, Bell 3-3 2RBI.
Havre – Travis Roth 1-3, Gavin Gunderson 1-2, Dustin Odegard 0-1, Chris Vukasin 0-2, Dan Miller 0-1, Jase Kato 0-2, David Denny 0-3, Ryne Antley 0-1, Chris Pitkanen 0-1, Tyrell Pierce 0-2, Spencer Ross 0-2, Deion Hammet 0-1, Kyle Gooch 0-1.
Havre 12, Lethbridge 7
Lethbridge 012 200 2 – 7 14 0
Havre 320 403 x – 12 16 0
WP – Gavin Gunderson; LP – Jordyn Johnson
Lethbridge – Ankerman 2-4, Johnson 0-1, Grandmont 2-3 2RBI, Wibeak 1-4, Davies 2-4 RBI, Bow 1-3 2RBIs, Strate 1-4 RBI, Holt 1-3, Luchanski 2-4 RBI, Kotkas 2-4.
Havre – Travis Roth 4-4 3RBI, Gavin Gunderson 2-5 RBI, Chris Bukasin 0-2, Dustin Odegard 0-2, Jase Kato 2-4 RBI, David Denny 2-3 RBI, Ryne Antley 3-4 RBI, Tyrell Pierce 0-4 RBI, Spencer Ross 1-2, Deion Hammet 2-3 4RBI.