Scoring runs has been an issue at times for the Havre North Stars American Legion baseball team. And that issue reared its head at the worst of times for the North Stars.
In the opening round of the 2014 Northern A District Tournament Thursday morning in Fort MacLeod, Alberta, Havre managed to plate just one run in nine innings, and the result was a 6-1 loss to the Vauxhall Spurs. With the loss, Havre must now defeat the No. 2seeded Medicine Hat Knights this morning in order to keep its season alive. Another loss before Sunday, and the North Stars will see their season come to an end.
But as difficult as runs were to come by Thursday morning against Vauxhall starter Jalen Lane, who allowed just four hits and struck out 11 Havre batters in a complete-game win, things got off to a good start for the North Stars. Travis Roth led off the game with a walk, reached second on a fielder’s choice and stole third. Then, with two outs in the inning, David Denny put the ball in play, and the first of seven Vauxhall errors allowed Roth to reach home and give the North Stars a 1-0 lead right out of the gate.
But from that point on, Havre’s offense could do little to nothing. Roth would add a base hit, as did Denny, Jeff Miller and Dylan Carpenter. But Havre couldn’t capitalize on any of those hits, or Vauxhall’s shaky defense.
Meanwhile, the Spurs didn’t take long to erase Havre’s early lead. They tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first inning, then pounded Havre starter Tyrell Pierce for three hits and four runs in the second. And that was more than enough of a cushion for Lane, who was in complete control the rest of the way. Vauxhall did add an insurance run in the sixth inning, while Havre went the final eight innings without threatening the Spurs.
And it was too bad Havre couldn’t get its offense on track. Pierce left the game after just three innings of work, and after that, Miller was outstanding in relief. He scattered eight hits, but only allowed one Vauxhall run, while walking just one and striking out one.
Still, the excellent effort by Miller on the mound wasn’t enough, and now the North Stars will have to readjust their pitching rotation in order to stay alive against the Knights, who split with in four meetings this season. Medicine Hat was upset by last-place Tri-County on Thursday night. Havre will likely start Chris Vukasin or Dylan Carpenter today, but Pierce could also see plenty of action on the mound in what is a do-or-die game for the North Stars. If Havre wins, it will play another loser-out game on Saturday morning. If the North Stars fall today, their season is over.
Vauxhall 6, North Stars 1
Havre 100 000 000 – 1 4 2
Vauxhall 140 001 00X – 6 11 7
WP – J. Lane, LP – Tyrell Pierce
Havre – Travis Roth 1-4, Spencer Ross 0-3, Jake Sedahl 0-5, David Denny 1-4, Jeff Miller 1-4, Chris Vukasin 0-3, Ryne Antley 0-3, Dylan Carpenter 1-4, Gavin Gunderson 0-3.
Vauxhall – M. Melnych 0-5, J. Wandler 2-5, J. Wong 3-4, V. Fode 2-3, A. Kress 1-4, N. Gilbertson 0-4, M. Perin 2-4, R. Marshall 0-3, N. Bolt 1-3.