Doubleheader splits against Norwood Young America and Tri City United to close the Minnesota River Conference portion of the schedule helped the Watertown-Mayer baseball team finish in third place last week.
At 8-6, the Royals finished just a game behind Norwood Young America for second place and two games behind league champion Jordan (10-4). TCU was also tied with Watertown-Mayer for third place.
The week started for the Royals with two games against NYA on Monday, May 13. The Royals took Game 1, 5-3, but missed out on a chance to finish second in the conference with a 6-4 loss to the Raiders in Game 2.
Watertown-Mayer bounced back with an 18-6 win over Maple Lake on Tuesday, May 14, in the Royals’ first non-conference game of the season, and then closed the MRC season with a 13-2 win and a 4-1 loss to TCU on Thursday, May 16.
The Royals entered the week with a 9-6 overall record, and closed the regular season with non-conference games against Glencoe-Silver Lake on Tuesday and Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted on Wednesday. The Royals, seeded fifth in Section 2AA, will open postseason play at fourth-seeded Norwood Young America on Saturday, May 25, at 1 p.m.
Royals 5, NYA 3
Watertown-Mayer jumped on Norwood Young America early with five runs in the first two innings, including a three-run first, and made those runs hold up for a 5-3 victory.
Matt Elsenpeter sparked the Royals in each of the first two innings, hitting a leadoff double in the first and a leadoff triple in the second. In the three-run first, Andrew Nichols added a single before Brendan Weege hit a two-run single. Mark Sandquist added a hit later in the inning.
In the second, Nichols drove in Elsenpeter with his second single of the game, and Joe Reinert added an RBI double later in the inning.
Elsenpeter finished 2-for-3 with a pair of runs, and Nichols was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. Nichols also went the distance on the mound, allowing only two runs on six hits in six innings to pick up the win.
NYA 6, Royals 4
After surrendering two first inning runs, the Royals battled back to take a 4-2 lead after the top of the third, but it was all Raiders the rest of the way. NYA added two runs in the bottom of the inning and two more in the fourth to take the 6-4 win.
After falling behind early, Mark Sandquist’s RBI double and P.J. Hangartner’s run-scoring single tied the game for the Royals. Watertown-Mayer took the lead in the third when Brendan Weege hit an RBI double and scored when Joe Reinert drove him in with a single. The lead didn’t last long, though, as NYA tied the game in the bottom of the inning and pulled ahead for good in the next.
The Royals had a chance to even the score in the fifth when Weege doubled and Reinert followed with an infield single with one out, but the Royals stranded both runners.
“It’s always tough to sweep a doubleheader, and we had our chances,” Watertown-Mayer coach Justin Stohs said. “I was proud of the effort and focus of our players all day. There was no quit in the young men.”
Reinert finished 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run and Weege was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Matt Elsenpeter, Nick Tschida, Sandquist and Hangartner had the other hits for the Royals.
Weege started on the mound and went four innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits. Sandquist pitched one scoreless inning in relief.
Royals 18, Maple Lake 6
The Royals scored at least four runs in three different innings, including five in the first, as they hammered Maple Lake in their first non-conference game of the year.
Reinert, Sandquist and David Gallus had RBI hits in the first, when the Royals also took advantage of a Maple Lake error. Watertown-Mayer went on to add a run in the second and two in the third, but still led just 8-5 after Maple Lake scored five runs in the second and third innings.
After a scoreless fourth inning for both teams, the Royals poured it on in the final two innings, adding four in the fifth and six in the sixth.
Andrew Nichols went 3-for-5 with three runs and three RBIs, and Sandquist was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run. Gallus was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run and Elsenpeter was 2-for-3 with four runs. Nick Tschida had a hit and two RBIs, Hangartner had a hit and an RBI, and Weege drove in three runs.
Seven Royals had hits as part of the 14-hit attack.
“It was great to get the bats going as we move toward the end of the season,” Stohs said. “It’s also great to see the depth of our pitching staff competing on the mound and giving us a chance to win.”
Hangartner got the start on the mound for the Royals, giving up five runs, – only three earned – in three innings, while striking out five. Sandquist gave up just one unearned run in three innings of relief.
Royals 13, TCU 2
The Royals bats stayed red hot in the first game of a doubleheader against Tri City United, when a 10-run fourth inning broke open what had been a 3-1 game in favor of the Royals.
Watertown-Mayer pounded out 12 hits in all, eight of which came in the fourth, when the Royals sent 14 men to the plate. TCU actually retired two of the first three hitters in the inning, leaving a run on first with two outs in a seemingly harmless inning.
But then the floodgates opened when Weege doubled to start a string of 10 straight hitters that reached base for the Royals. The run came full circle when Weege became the 10th straight hitter to reach when he drove in two runs with his second double of the inning. The first two runs came courtesy of Nick Tschida’s two-run single, and a number of walks and errors also hurt TCU in the inning.
Nichols finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, and Weege was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs. Brett Johnson was 3-for-3 with an RBI.
“It seemed everything we hit fell into play, and we got timely hitting with runners in scoring position,” Stohs said. “It was great to see some of our young guys coming around and getting hits. Each game we seem to be putting more and more pressure on the other team at the plate.”
Michael Herd pitching for the Royals, going five innings and allowing just two runs on eight hits to pick up the win.
TCU 4, Royals 1
The second game proved to be the complete opposite of the first for the Royals at the plate. This time, they recorded only six hits and a third-inning run as the came up short of sweeping the doubleheader in a game that would have helped them tie for second in the conference.
“In the second game of the doubleheader, it seemed like everything that fell into play the first game was hit directly at a TCU defender,” Stohs said. “We hit the ball very well but TCU was in the right position and made plays. We left nine runners on base and were unable to get the big hit.”
Tschida went 2-for-2 to lead the Royals at the plate, while Reinert, Sandquist, Hangartner and Johnson all had one hit for Watertown-Mayer. Weege started on the mound and went four innings, allowing four runs, three of which were earned. Matt Elsenpeter struck out four in two scoreless innings of relief.
Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]