Havre Daily News Sports Editor
The Havre American Legion baseball teams took their turns beating up the Great Falls Stallions on a brilliant spring Sunday at Legion Field.
In the opening game, the Havre Northstars overcame a 4-0 first-inning deficit to pick up a 10-4 win.
Great Falls jumped out to a 4-0 lead off of Northstar Ben Erickson as the Stallions ripped four hits and capitalized on an error in the outfield.
However, Erickson settled down, holding the Stallions scoreless over the next three innings, while his teammates chipped away at the lead.
"Ben did a nice job of settling down after the first inning," said Northstars coach Mickey Williams. "He was leaving the ball up in the strike zone in that first inning. He started getting the ball down and changing speeds to keep them off balance."
Havre got a run in the first inning as Patch Wirtzberger reached on a bunt single, and later scored on Sean Peterson's ground ball to second.
The Northstars got another in the third as Austin Small singled to lead off the inning and scored on Eric Fanning's grounder.
Havre tied the game in the fourth inning as Chase Castloo drew a lead-off walk and later scored on Austin Small's RBI double to right. Jeff Tibbals tied the game, scoring Small on a single up the middle.
The Northstars took the lead an inning later. Bryden Vukasin led off with a single and later scored on Erickson's bloop single to right. Havre put the game out of reach in the sixth, scoring five runs on five hits and capitalizing on two Great Falls errors.
"We hit the ball better than the last time out," Williams said. "We're making good contact and had a few strikeouts."
Tibbals shut the Stallions down in relief to pick up the win. Small led the Northstars with three hits, while Wirtzberger, Tibbals and Erickson had two hits each.
"It was good to see that we showed we could come back after getting down early," Williams said. "We just kind of chipped away at the lead and broke it open in the sixth."
In the nightcap, the Havre Comets opened their season on a positive note, also scoring a 10-4 win.
The Comets jumped out to an early 7-1 lead in two innings, taking advantage of multiple Stallion errors to get the win.
"We played pretty well for our first game of the season," said Comet coach Andy Smith. "Overall, it was a total team effort. Everybody got to get a couple of at-bats and a couple innings in the field and everybody contributed."
For the most part, the youthful Comets didn't play like it was their first game at the Legion level.
"We got into a couple jams with our pitchers getting the bases loaded," Smith said. "But we found a way to get out of them and never let them back into the game with a big inning.
"We made a few mistakes, which are going to happen, but I was pretty pleased with how we played."
The Northstars will be in action this Sunday when they host the Great Falls Stallions AA squad at 1 p.m. The Comets return to action on May 4 when they face the Northstars in a conference game.
Northstars 10, Great Falls 4
Great Falls Stallions 400 000 0 - 4 5 3
Havre Northstars 101 215 X - 10 15 2
Lewis (5), Pallet (1) and Coleman; Ben Erickson (4), Jeff Tibbals (3) and Patch Wirtzberger.
WP - Tibbals; LP - Lewis.
STALLIONS HITTING - Pallet 0-4, Grif 1-3, Coleman 1-3, Meredith 103, Bates 0-3, Lewis 1-3, Blair 1-3, Wilke 0-3, Sutherland 0-3
NORTHSTARS HITTING - Austin Small, 3-4, Patch Wirtzberger 2-4 (RBI), Sean Peterson 1-5 (RBI), Jess McLain 0-0, Jeff Tibbals 2-2 (RBI), Eric Fanning 0-3 (RBI), Scott Ladenburg 1-2, Bryden Vukasin 1-1, John Christian 1-3, Josh Morse 0-2, Ben Erickson 2-2 (2 RBI), Richard Jarvis 0-1, Chase Castloo 1-2 (RBI).
2B - Blair, Tibbals
3B - Peterson
HR - none
Comets 10, Great Falls 4
Great Falls Stallions 100 120 0 - 4
Havre Comets 250 201 X - 10
Bates and Wilke; Tanner Donoven (3), Tanner Abdallah (2) and Ryan Callahan.
WP - Donoven; LP - Bates.
No individual hitting statistics were available.