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Northstars aim to make even more history

Havre ends a 15-year drought at the Class A state tournament starting Thursday


Last updated 8/5/2020 at 7:53am

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Havre's Quinn Reno fields a grounder during a Northern A Distinct game last week in Great Falls. The Northstars play in their first Class A state tournament in 15 years Thursday through Sunday in Lewistown.

The Havre Northstars American Legion baseball club is hot. After pushing through a tough Northern A District Tournament to make it to the Class A State Tournament, where the Northstars will look to fight all the way to the top to win a state chipper.

After not being in the tournament since 2005, Havre is ready to get cracking and put on a show.

Down in Lewistown at Ryan Sparks Field, the Northstars will be representing the North as the No. 2 seed, with their opening round opponent being the No. 1 Billings Blue Jays out of the East. The game will be Thursday at 1 p.m. for Havre. There will be a lot of pressure this weekend for the Northstars.

And Havre head coach Patch Wirtzberger is looking forward to watching his team compete at Ryan Sparks Field.

"I feel like we're in a pretty good spot," Wirtzberger said. "We know all the teams down there are going to be really tough. You don't just make the state tournament without being a really good, solid team. We know we're going to have to be ready and we're going to have to play our best baseball, so we can put our best foot forward."

The Northstars have proved that they are quite the scrappy competition this season. After what looked to be a sour end to the season at districts, Havre turned heads and fought its way to go to Lewistown. Simply put, it is not going to be easy to beat the Northstars. Coached under Wirtzberger, Shane Reno and Jake Eldridge, Havre will be coming down to Lewistown ready to rock.

When it comes to the roster, seniors Quinn Reno and Tyrel Kjersem will be pivotal in leading the charge for the Northstars. Other key names offensively include Carson Lunak, Ethan Carlson, Caden Jenkins, Eli Cloninger, Trenton Maloughney, Theron Peterson, Tavish Mclean, Julian Benson, Drake Berreth, Jeremiah Benson and Kale Reno have all made key contributions this year. On the mound, athletes like Julian Benson, Kale Reno, Maloughney, Lunak and Kjersem have all put in some great work to give Havre a solid pitching core.

As for the Northstars first opponent, the No. 1 Billings Blue Jays out of the East will be ready to throw down Thursday.

"Billings is a team we haven't seem yet this year," Wirtzberger said. "They are a really good team coming out of the East as the No. 1. We know they're going to have deep pitching, hit the ball well all the way through the order and they're going to field well. They're not going to give us anything. We're going to have to play our best game of the year."

As for the other teams at the state tournament, the West No. 2 Bitteroot Bucs, the South No. 1 Belgrade Bandits, the South No. 2 Gallatin Valley Outlaws, the West No. 1 Glacier Twins, the East No. 2 Miles City Mavericks and the North No. 1 Lewistown Redbirds will all be fighting for a spot at a state title at Ryan Sparks Field, as well. There are no easy games at this tournament for any team.

Tournament bracket-wise, teams will have to go through the opening round to start off the weekend, followed by the winners moving on to the quarterfinal matchups Friday, while the losers will make their way through the loser's bracket. After the quarterfinals, winning teams will move on to the semifinals, where the winner will move on to the championship game Sunday. As for the loser's bracket, the team that claws its way up from there will meet the winner's bracket victor for the championship game. If the loser's bracket team wins, there will be a true-championship game, as it is a true double-elimination tournament.

There is a lot of steep competition at the state tourney, but Wirtzberger knows which two teams will likely cause the most trouble in Lewistown.

"It's a really deep field," Wirtzberger said. "I think they are all really tough. We've seen Lewistown all year, so we know how good they really are. They just keep coming at you, they're relentless with their bat and they never give up. Belgrade is a powerhouse out of the South and is a staple at the state tournament. We know they're going to be tough. If I had to pick the top two teams, those two would be it."

It is go-time for the No. 2 Havre Northstars, who will face off against the No. 1 Billings Blue Jays Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. in Lewistown at Ryan Sparks Field. If the Northstars make it past the opening round, they will face the winner of the Bitteroot-Belgrade game Friday at 4 p.m. for a quarterfinal showdown.


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