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North Stars ready for a tough six-game road swing

 

June 30, 2014

Havre Daily News/File Photo

Havre's Travis Roth takes a swing during an American Legion baseball game earlier this month in Havre. The North Stars play six Northern District games in the next three days, including today's doubleheader in Conrad.

It’s back to business for the Havre North Stars American Legion baseball club.

And business means a difficult, three-day Northern A District road swing. The road trip starts today with a pair of conference games against the Tri-County Cardinals in Conrad. Havre then travels north of the border for games against the Fort MacLeod Royals and Lethbridge Giants.

Havre currently sits in a tie for first in the district standings, but the meat of the North Stars’ schedule will come over the next three weeks. Havre is pretty much done with non-conference play save a few games, as the North Stars split with the Missoula Prospects at home last Tuesday, but had a scheduled game against the Great Falls Outlaws rained out last Thursday night.

Still, the North Stars (14-10) take a 6-2 record in their last six games into this week’s road trip, and head coach Danny Wirtzberger, who will have his full complement of starting pitchers rested for the trip, likes the way his team is playing.

“We’ve won six of our last eight games,” Wirtzberger said, “so we’re playing well. I just like the way this team competes. They really want to win every game. But we do have a tough schedule coming up.”

That tough schedule starts with today’s doubleheader in Conrad. The North Stars swept Tri-County in a pair of games at Legion Field earlier this month, but they know they’ll get a true test on the Cardinals’ home field. The Cardinals will start two strong pitchers against Havre, and their lineup includes power hitter Taylor Judisch, who wasn’t in the lineup the last time the two teams met. Tri-County also has some depth this season, and that’s something the Cardinals haven’t had in a while.

But if Havre can get two great outings from its starters, which will likely be Tyrell Pierce and Jeff Miller, and the North Stars get consistent run support for their starters, they could walk out of Conrad with two more conference wins. And that would be huge as Havre has to face Fort MacLeod and Lethbridge four times this season, as well as Vauxhall four more times and Medicine Hat and Great Falls twice each. So two wins in Conrad today would go along way for Havre’s chances of keeping pace in the district standings.

And hitting will certainly help Havre’s cause in every game of the six-game road swing. The North Stars are hitting consistently, but they haven’t produced runs at times, even with plenty of runner’s in scoring position. But if Havre can ride the hot bats of Spencer Ross, Travis Roth, David Denny and Jake Sedahl, as well as get big RBI production from Miller, Pierce, Chris Vukasin, Chance Pitkanen and others, they should be able to keep pace with every team they face this week.

Keeping pace is big, too, because Havre will be up against two Northern District heavyweights Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday, Havre is in Fort MacLeod for a doubleheader, and the Royals began the season as the favorite to capture the league title. Fort MacLeod is probably the most veteran team in the conference and the Royals have strong pitching and plenty of power hitters. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Havre heads south to take on Lethbridge in two more conference outings. The Giants are one of many younger teams in the Northern District as Lethbridge also has a AA program. But they are still dangerous and are consistently one of the best teams in the district.

Havre’s three-day road trip starts with today’s games between the North Stars and Tri-County Cardinals in Conrad. The doubleheader starts at 3. Havre is in Fort MacLeod for two games Tuesday evening then travels to Lethbridge for two games on Wednesday before getting the rest of the week off. The North Stars will be back at home to face Lethbridge July 6.

 

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