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Moving on: North Stars shut out Spurs

 


Daniel Horton Havre Daily News [email protected]

Day one of the American Legion Northern District baseball tournament is in the books, and the Havre North Stars advanced by recording the only upset of the day. On Thursday night, the North Stars (No. 6) defeated the Vauxhall Spurs (No. 3) 4-0 at Legion Field. To advance to tonight's semifinal round. “The records to this point didn't matter,” North Star's head coach Steve Fanning said. “Starting right now it's a new season, and to get that win was awesome.” But even though the Spurs held a higher seed coming into the tournament, it was hard not to expect a win from the North Stars. In four regular season meetings the North Stars won 3-of-4 from Vauxhall. And with Brandon Smith back on the mound, the outcome for the North Stars looked even brighter. Smith put in seven complete innings on the hill, and dominated Spur's hitters in the process. He faced 28 batters and struck out five on the road to a one hit, shutout outing. “We really needed a win against these guys,” Smith said. “We beat them three out of four times during the year so we needed to beat them and advance. I was confident because I pitched against them last week and did fairly well. I just went in and knew what I had to do.” Shane Kemmer and Kyle Miller came on in relief, and kept the shutout alive for the North Stars. Combined, Kemmer and Miller faced 11 batters and allowed only one hit. They also only walked three and struck out three with Miller nailing down the save in the ninth inning. “Brandon Smith threw an awesome game,” Fanning said. “For a 15-yearold to step up in that kind of situation, that kind of pressure, that's awesome. He did a fantastic job. I kind of got nervous; Shane (Kemmer) came in and wasn't throwing a lot of strikes. But he settled down and did a good job. And Kyle (Miller) came in and did a good job, so it was good.” The North Stars started the game on the right foot, and took a 2-0 lead after just one inning. Smith and Justin Jensen earned leadoff walks, and after two consecutive outs Kemmer put the bat on the ball for a two-run single. But the North Stars knew the Spurs pitching was going to be tough. And through the second and third innings, Spur's pitcher, Ryan Colby recorded six straight strikeouts to keep the North Stars lead close at 2-0. “They are a competitive team,” Fanning said. “We didn't think they were going to beat us with the bats, we knew they had arms that could beat us. But we put enough together for a win.” In the fourth inning, the North Stars got back on the board. Joe Malisani drove in Miller on an RBI single, and the North Stars took a 3-0 lead. And in the fifth, the North Stars would extend their lead to 4-0, scoring their last run of the game. But this time it was Willie DeVries earning the RBI on a sacrifice bunt. With five innings behind them, the North Stars had to really look at pitching and defense to hold the narrow 4-0 lead through the remaining four innings of play. Coltan LaBoucane came on in relief for the Spurs, and pitched the remaining four innings. He allowed only two Havre hits, no walks and struck out four. But the North Stars defense and relievers on the mound prevailed. They held the Spurs to one more hit, and recorded zero errors on the game. Leading the Havre offense, Kemmer went 1-of-4 with two RBIs. Malisani also went 1-of-4 with an RBI, while Smith was 1-of-3 with and RBI. Justin Jensen, Miller Paul Jensen and Roman Surber also had one hit each for the North Stars. “For a win we didn't look very good at the plate tonight,” Fanning said. “We need to get better. We knew they had two good arms and we didn't score a lot or hit the ball very well. We have to put more offense on the board for sure, but I am definitely happy about the win.” With the win, the North Stars advanced to face the No. 2 Lethbridge Miners at 6 p.m. tonight. Havre, being the No. 6 seed in the tournament is now just one win away from almost locking up a state tournament berth. And the Miners are a team the North Stars have found success against, but they have also struggled against them. “We have to score a lot more runs for sure,” Fanning said. “They are a lot better offensive team than this (Spurs). Hopefully we can get some good pitching and good defense.”

 

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