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North Star bats explode against Cardinals

 


Havre North Star Justin Jensen rips a shot during a Northern A American Legion baseball game between Havre and Tri-County Saturday at Legion Field in Havre. The North Stars scored 36 runs in two wins over the Cardinals.

Before the Havre North Stars American Legion baseball club wrapped up an important six-game, conference week with a Holiday Weekend sweep of the Vauxhall Spurs, the fireworks were really flying.

On Saturday afternoon at Legion Field, the North Stars were locked an intense and explosive offensive Northern A doubleheader with the Tri-County Cardinals at Legion Field. And when the smoke cleared on a wild two games, the North Stars had victories of 22-15 and 14-7 over the Cardinals.

Pitching was not at a premium on a hot Saturday in Havre as the North Stars scored 36 runs and belted 39 hits in two games against the Cardinals. And on the flip side, Tri-County was nearly as good at the plate, racking up 22 runs and 25 hits in two losses to Havre.

And the first game of the doubleheader was all about offense.

The North Stars started the game with a base hits from Justin Jensen and Thurman Holdsclaw, while Brandon Smith tripled to score them both, and later scored on a wild pitch, and a 3-0 lead. But Tri-County showed the theme of the day would be answering Havre's onslaught as the Cardinals took a 4-3 lead at the end of the top of the second inning.

However, Havre came right back and batted around in the bottom of the second. The North Stars tagged Tri-County started Monte Richmond for seven runs and five hits in the second to lead 10-4. Chris Vukasin, Jensen, Smith and Kolby Sukut all singled in the inning and all drove in runs and it looked like the route was on.

But one half inning later, the Cardinals chased Spencer Morkrid and Justin Denny from the mound, as they scored seven runs of their own and belted five hits to lead 11-10. But Havre's bats were nowhere near done, and the North Stars ended the third inning leading 16-11 after batting around again. Mark Vukasin belted his second double of the day as part of eight hits in the inning. Kolby Sukut also doubled and drove in three runs as Havre did more offensive damage to the Cardinals.

From that point, it was up to pitching, and with Smith in by the fourth inning, Havre looked to put the Cardinals away. And Smith got more help as the North Stars added to their lead with another six-run inning. By the top of the fifth, Havre led 22-11, and while the Cardinals did manage four runs in the fifth, Smith was able to pitch well enough to end the carnage, and give Havre its third straight win of the week.

Smith got the win although Colt Young started the contest. Smith struck out nine batters in just four innings, but he did most of his work at the plate. He went 4-for-5 with four runs scored and five RBIs, while Mark Vukasin hammered three doubles and also drove in a whopping five runs. Every North Star seemed to get into the act at the plate, as Jensen went 3-for-5, Holdsclaw added two hits, Sukut had two hits, Denny had two hits, Chance Pitkanen had a pair of singles and Chris Vukasin added two hits. In all, the North Stars got their 22 runs on 21 hits and committed just one error in seven innings.

And that was just game one.

In game two, Havre was equally aggressive at the plate, hammering Tri-County's Trevor Walker for 14 runs and 18 hits, while the Havre defense again committed just one error.

The first inning was key for the North Stars in the nightcap as they scored five runs, and this time, never trailed. Smith, Young, Sukut and Mark Vukasin all singled in the first and all four scored, while eight North Stars reached base in the inning.

And that five-run lead would be just enough for Sukut, who pitched a complete-game victory for the North Stars. Sukut struck out only one and allowed 13 hits, but he walked just one Cardinal and got outstanding defense behind him and plenty of run support.

The Cardinals made a game of it when they tied things up at 6-6 heading into the bottom of the fifth, but that's when Havre's bats answered the call yet again.

In the fifth the North Stars batted around for the sixth time in two games, and scored seven runs on eight hits. The big blows came from Garreth Bernard and Denny. Bernard hit a bases-clearing double to left-center and later, Denny drove in three more runs on a double to right field. And that was all Havre needed to put the Cardinals away for the day.

In the second game, all nine North Stars had at least one hit, with Young going 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Bernard was 2-for-4 with three RBIs, while Jensen drove in two runs. Holdsclaw and Smith also had multiple hits in the game as Havre backed up its sweep of the Great Falls Stallions on Wednesday with two more district wins.

And with the sweep of Vauxhall on Sunday, the North Stars end the Fourth of July Weekend with a six-game winning streak and a 9-13 conference record. Havre had just three wins at the start of the week in league play, so the North Stars are certainly hitting their stride at the right time.

Now, the North Stars will head to Conrad today to face Tri-County.

 

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