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North Stars struggle through Memorial tourney


Daniel Horton Havre Daily News [email protected]

The American Legion Havre North Stars baseball team was hoping to turn its weekend around after dropping two games on Thursday, but after three more tough games for the North Stars, not much went according to plan. Continuing to host the Memorial Tournament on Friday night at Legion Field, the North Stars were defeated 17-4 in five innings by the Glendive Blue Devils. And on Saturday night, the Gallatin Valley Outlaws defeated the North Stars 14-1. And wrapping up the weekend and the tournament, on Sunday afternoon the Glasgow Reds defeated the North Stars 10-4. Overall, the North Stars were swept in five games and dropped to an overall record of 3-10. “I expected more out of our team,” North Stars head coach Steve Fanning said. “And they know that. They also expected more, and hopefully, as the year goes on we can improve. We just need to work harder.” On Friday night, the Blue Devils got off to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. But in the bottom half of the first, the North Star's Joe Malisani drove in a run to get Havre back within one run. And after the Blue Devils went up 3-1 in the second, the North Stars were able to answer right back. Garreth Bernard was able to score on an error and Ryan Mingneau was able to drive in a run to tie the game at 3-3. But in the third inning, the Blue Devils added two more runs on two more hits to go up 5-3. And in the fourth they went up 8-3 on three more hits and two Havre errors. The North Stars did add another run in the fourth on a Kyle Miller RBI, but while the Blue Devils were heating up, that's all the North Stars would get. The Blue Devils exploded in the fifth inning. On five hits and three more Havre errors, the Blue Devils were able to send 14 men to the plate and add nine more runs. Needing at least three more runs to stay in the game, the North Stars slump at the plate continued. Josh Almond and the Blue Devils struck out the side, and handed the North Stars a 17-4 loss. Malisani led the North Stars going 2-of-3 with an RBI, but Miller pitched in by going 1-of-2 with an RBI. Shane Kemmer and Mingneau also got a hit for the North Stars. “Right now offensively we are struggling,” Fanning said. “We're working on it. The more cage work and live pitching they see, the better they will hit. But we definitely need to have a better plan at the plate.” Facing the Outlaws on Saturday night, the Havre bats continued to struggle. Roman Surber, Miller and Brandon Smith combined for the North Star's only three hits. And Smith had the only RBI on the night. The Outlaws put up three runs in the second inning, and never slowed down. They put up two more in the third, three in the fourth and two in the sixth to go up 10-0. Smith's RBI came in the bottom of the sixth inning, keeping the North stars from getting shut out and giving them the opportunity at a seventh inning. But in the seventh inning, things continued to go in favor of the Outlaws. They added five more hits, totaling 12, and added four more runs, capturing a 14-1 victory. As the North Star's starting pitcher, Surber did all he could to keep his team in the game. He threw five innings and recorded eight strikeouts. “The weekend is kind of a blur.” Fanning said. “Nothing really sticks out to me from those games.” Errors played a big part in the North Star's Friday and Saturday night losses. In the two games they combined for 11 errors, including a handful coming from dropped fly balls. “Physical errors are going to happen,” Fanning said. “We don't want to have them, but we get them because they aren't doing things right, the way they are coached. They aren't mentally doing things, and that's what's hurting us.” As the North Stars took the field and began to play the Glasgow Reds on Sunday, there was a noticeable difference all around. The final score may not necessarily depict what happened on the field, but the North Star's play was much improved. They were able to knock their errors down to five, boost their runs up to four and even come away with eight hits. Not their dream numbers, but they made some headway by staying in the game and keeping up their intensity. “That's what we expect,” Fanning said. “Keeping the intensity is going to help them. They are going to play better and that's what they needed. They are a different team when they do that.” After trailing 4-0 early, the North Stars got on the board with a bases loaded Malisani walk in the third. And in the fourth they climbed within two runs on a Justin Jensen RBI double. And in the five-and-a-third innings pitched, Miller was able to keep the Reds to six hits, while only walking one and striking out five. The North Stars were in the picture through four innings, but the Reds kept plugging away. In the fifth inning the Reds added two runs, while in the sixth they added four more to get a 10-4 win. Justin Jensen led the North Stars, going 2-of-2 with an RBI. Malisani was 0-for-2, but still managed to earn two RBIs. Miller, Surber, Bernard and Willie DeVries all got a hit, and Kemmer went a stellar 2-for-3 as well. “We talked about how we need to work harder,” Fanning said. “We don't care about the score as long as we are putting the effort in. It didn't end the way we wanted it to, but they came out and worked harder.” Overall, the weekend was a long one for the North Stars. They had some bright spots, but dropped five games to five tough opponents. Their young guys got a lot of playing time, and really got a taste of American Legion baseball, having to face some of the top talent in the state. “It's going to take time for these young kids,” Fanning said. “They got thrown into the fire this weekend, and it showed. It was a great tournament, some games weren't' too entertaining, but there were some good games.” The North Stars travel to Medicine Hat on Tuesday for their next matchup, and don't return home until Wednesday, June 24, when they will face the Great Falls Sparkies.


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