Strong pitching has Royals off to a fast start

The Watertown-Mayer baseball team went 3-1 last week, getting a doubleheader sweep against Sibley East on Monday, April 29, in which Andrew Nichols nearly tossed a no-hitter for the Royals, and coming back with a split in a doubleheader against LeSueur-Henderson on the road on Thursday, May 2.

At the end of the week, the Royals were 4-2 both overall and in the Minnesota River Conference. The Royals also took on Mayer Lutheran in a road doubleheader on Monday, May 6, and will return to action Thursday, May 9, for a home doubleheader against Jordan at 4 p.m. The Royals will also host Norwood Young America in yet another MRC doubleheader on Monday, May 13, also at 4 p.m.

 

Royals 2, Sibley East 0

Andrew Nichols came within one out of a six-inning no-hitter for the Royals, but settled for a shutout instead after Sibley East’s Zac Weber singled with two outs in the sixth. Nichols then retired Lukas Bullert on a groundout to second to preserve the win, in which he went the distance allowing just one hit while striking out eight and walking four.

“Andrew controlled the tempo of the game,” Watertown-Mayer coach Justin Stohs said. “He stayed ahead of hitters and kept them off balance.”

The Royals put up just enough offense behind Nichols, getting on the board first in the second inning when Brendan Weege led off with a double, moved to third on a one-out single by Joe Reinert and scored on a P.J. Hangartner sacrifice fly to right field.

The Royals got an insurance run in the fourth when Mark Sandquist led off with a single, moved up a two-out single from Reinert and scored on an RBI single from Hangartner.

 

Royals 8, Sibley East 3

The Royals got a solid pitching performance from Brendan Weege and backed him with eight runs on 13 hits as the Royals finished off the sweep of Sibley East in Game 2.

“On offense, we put pressure on Sibley East in a couple innings and came up big when needed,” Stohs said. “It was great to see so many guys come up with hits. Six different players had RBIs and seven players at least got one hit.”

A five-run second inning in which the Royals sent 12 men to the plate and capitalized on six hits and an error proved to more than enough for the Royals. Brett Johnson, Nick Tschida, Matt Elsenpeter and Mark Sandquist all had RBI singles in the frame, and Reinert drove in a run when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

The Royals got three more insurance runs in the fourth, when Elsenpeter led off with a double. Weege, Hangartner and David Gallus all had RBI singles in the inning.

Elsenpeter and Weege led the Royals’ offense, each by going 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Mark Sandquist was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, and Hangartner was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run. Max Zitzloff, Gallus, and Tschida also had hits for the Royals.

On the mound, Weege got the win, going all six innings and allowing three runs — two earned — on eight hits. He walked four and struck out three.

“We came out swinging and turned four double plays to secure the sweep,” Stohs said. “Brendan Weege threw well and the defense played solid behind him, making countless big plays to get out of threats.”

 

LSH 2,Royals 1

Watertown-Mayer wasted a solid pitching performance from Max Zitzloff as they fell to LeSueur-Henderson, 2-1, in the first game of a Minnesota River Conference doubleheader.

LeSueur-Henderson struck first on a second-inning RBI single from Brady Rose, but Watertown-Mayer tied the game in the fifth when Hangartner drew a two-out walk, Andy Opheim doubled, and an error on the shortstop on a ball hit by Brett Johnson allowed a run to score.

However, LSH got the run right back in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single from Matt Rinehart, and that was enough to preserve the two-hit win for LSH pitcher Ryan Moriarty.

Zitzloff went the distance for the Royals, allowing two earned runs on five hits in five innings, striking out four and walking three.

“We got a great pitching performance from Max Zitzloff, but were unable to come up with enough runs to get the win,” Stohs said.

 

Royals 2, LSH 1

Watertown-Mayer got yet another great pitching performance, this time from Michael Herd, as they avoided the sweep with a 2-1 victory over the Giants in Game 2.

Herd got the start on the mound and went five innings, allowing only one unearned run on two hits. Elsenpeter came on and stuck out two in a perfect sixth inning to earn the save.

“Michael Herd pitched a great game to get the win,” Stohs said. “He mixed up pitches and got crucial outs when LeSueur-Henderson threatened to score.”
The Royals got their only two runs in the first inning, but made them hold up the rest of the way. Weege doubled in the inning, Hangartner had a hit, Elsenpeter and Sandquist drew walks, and the Royals took advantage of two Giant errors to put the two runs on the board.

LeSueur-Henderson took advantage of a walk and an error to open the third inning, and eventually got a run on a sacrifice fly by Ty O’Brien. However, Herd stranded runners on second and third to preserve the one-run lead when he got Alex Klockmann to pop out to third base to end the threat.

Johnson, Hangartner, Weege and Elsenpeter had the only four hits for the Royals.

Contact Matt Bunke at matt.bunke@ecm-inc.com

 
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