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Havre North Stars go 1-3 on most recent road trip


Daniel Horton Havre Daily News [email protected]ilynews.com

Coming off of a two-game sweep of conference opponent Great Falls Sparkies, the Havre North Stars American Legion baseball team was looking to collect a few more conference wins over the weekend. But after two doubleheaders on the road, the North Stars came away with only one win. On Thursday, the Tri County Cardinals swept the North stars by scores of 6-2 and 12-8 in Conrad. And on Saturday, the North Stars and Sparkies split in two games. In game one, the Sparkies defeated the North Stars 8-6, while in game two the North Stars came from behind to defeat the Sparkies 9-6 at Don Olson Field in Great Falls. “After sweeping the Sparkies,” North Stars head coach Steve Fanning said, “I was looking to have some momentum and energy showing from our ball club. Disappointingly, that didn't show up. We are losing to teams that we can beat if we play the entire game. It is our goal as a coaching staff to be playing not only the entire game, but nine innings by the time the district tournament rolls around.” In game one against the Cardinals on Thursday, Roman Surber dominated from the mound through five innings, allowing only one run. But in the Cardinal's half of the sixth inning, the North Stars hurt themselves by allowing big hits, walks and errors that resulted in a five-run inning, and consequently a Cardinal's 6-5 victory. Brandon Smith went 2-of-4 at the plate, as did Paul Jensen, who also added another home run to his season total. And Kyle Miller added a triple to the mix, while Shane Kemmer was good for a double. “We didn't get production one through nine in our lineup,” Fanning said. “And it cost us, leaving too many runners on base. Also leading 5-1 for much of the game I think we got complacent, not keeping the pressure on.” Game two Thursday had a similar story line as in game one. The North Stars jumped out to a 5-0 first-inning lead, but couldn't maintain a lead for a complete game. The Cardinals had an explosive fourth inning at the plate that resulted in the 12-8 victory and sweep over the North Stars. “Again, we should have capitalized earlier in the game, putting them away,” Fanning said. “Instead we let them stay in the game, eventually taking complete control.” Offensively, the North Stars saw a little more action in game two. Smith, Paul Jensen and Joe Malisani went 2-of-4, while Kemmer put one over the fence for his first homer of the season, and Surber tripled. “Offensively we swung the bats alright,” Fanning said, “but we didn't do so well with runners in scoring position, leaving a lot of guys on base.” When Saturday rolled around, the North Stars suffered their third straight conference loss. With the help of a Kemmer home run, the North Stars jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and held the tworun margin over the Sparkies through two complete innings. But while the North Star's bats were quiet through six innings, the Sparkies managed to score three runs in the third, two in the fourth and three in the fifth, to capture an 8-2 lead. In the sixth and seventh innings, the North Stars added four runs, but the late surge left the North Stars short of a win. “By that time we found ourselves down 8-2 with a late comeback not amounting to enough,” Fanning said. “Again, defensively we struggled which led to unearned runs and more pitches thrown than needed.” Malisani went 2-of-3, while Miller went 2-of-4 with a home run and three RBIs. Smith, Justin Jensen, Paul Jensen, Kemmer and Tyler Olthoff also had hits for the North Stars in the loss to Great Falls. When game two against the Sparkies began, it didn't look promising for the struggling North Stars. And finding themselves in a hole early, the North Stars trailed 6-2 after only two innings. Gareth Bernard was the starting pitcher for the North Stars, but was relieved by Kemmer after two innings. And in relief, Kemmer was in total control, not giving up a single run in five innings pitched. “He (Shane Kemmer) has been such a strong reliever for us,” Fanning said, “keeping us in games.” But Kemmer also kept the North Stars in the game with his offense. In the third inning Kemmer put the North Stars back on the board with a threerun homerun blast. The North Stars also put up two more runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to take the 9-6 lead and the win. We keep coming back to the same things,” Fanning said, “defense and timely hitting. Some games we have it and others we miss them both completely. As a coaching staff we also are expecting more production out of entire lineup. We can't depend on our one through five hitters to provide all of the offense. We need other players to step up with big hits.” Justin Jensen led the North Stars with a perfect 4-of-4 performance, and by scoring four runs. Kemmer was 3-of- 4 and had three RBIs, a double and a homer. Miller and Paul Jensen also both had two hits for the North Stars, with Miller adding a triple to the mix. After the four conference matchups, the North stars have dropped to 6-8 in conference play. But with three straight conference opponents still to come, the North Stars have room to improve. On Tuesday, the North Stars return home to host the Vauxhall Spurs in their first meeting of the season at 3 p.m.. And though the Spurs have lost a handful of talented players, the defending state champions are expected to still come out and compete at a high level. “We still have some tough opponents left to play within our conference,” Fanning said. “And we will need to raise our level of play if we want to compete. I expect them (Vauxhall) to come in and be very competitive. We definitely need to step it up.”


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