Royals beat Raiders in playoff opener

Brett Johnson’s two-out, RBI single in the top of the seventh inning sent the Watertown-Mayer baseball team to a 2-1 win over Norwood Young America last Saturday in a first round game in Section 2AA.

The fifth-seeded Royals, playing at fourth-seeded NYA, got a leadoff single from Mark Sandquist in the seventh, and P.J. Hangartner moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. After NYA pitcher Isaac Hormann got a strikeout for the second out in the inning, Johnson delivered his clutch single up the middle to put the Royals in front.

In the bottom of the inning, Matt Elsenpeter came on in relief of Michael Herd  — who surrendered just one unearned run on four hits in six innings of work – and retired the side in order, including a pair of strikeouts, to secure the win.

“It was a great game for the boys,” Watertown-Mayer coach Justin Stohs said. “They had to fight and compete the entire game. The energy level was tremendous, and they found a way to win.”

Norwood Young America took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning when Bryce Panning led off with a single and moved to second on an error. He moved up to third on a groundout to second, and later scored on another error.

The lead didn’t last long, though, as Watertown-Mayer answered right back in the top of the fourth. Nick Tschida started the rally with a one-out double, and he moved to third on Brendan Weege’s groundout to second. Joe Reinert followed with an RBI single to left that knotted the score at 1-1.

Norwood Young America had several chances to take the lead, but couldn’t convert. In the bottom of the fourth, a one-out double from Taylor Trick was wasted after he was stranded on third, and in the fifth, a two-out error by the Royals and a subsequent walk didn’t prove costly when Herd got the Raider’s cleanup hitter to pop out to first to end the inning.

Norwood Young America went down in order in the sixth inning, and in the seventh inning as well after the Royals had scored the go-ahead run.

“We came out eager to compete and win,” Stohs said. “The guys believed they had a great opportunity to beat NYA and played determined and focused.”

Herd’s fine pitching performance was matched nearly pitch for pitch by Norwood Young America’s Isaac Hormann, who allowed just two runs on seven hits in seven innings. However, Herd and Elsenpeter combined to be just a bit better.

“Michael Herd threw a great game, keeping the ball down, and he got a couple big strikeouts at key moments,” Stohs said. “Matt Elsenpeter came in in the seventh and closed the door.”

Reinert led the Royals’ offense by going 2-for-3 with an RBI.

With the win, the Royals advanced to the double elimination portion of the section playoffs. The Royals also played Tuesday, May 30, at top-seeded Holy Family in Victoria. Regardless of if the Royals won or lost that game, they would play at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 30. With a win against Holy Family, that game would be either at home against Belle Plaine or on the road against Glencoe-Silver Lake. With a loss at Holy Family, the elimination game would be played at the higher seed.

 

GSL 10, Royals 7

In the final game of the regular season, Glencoe-Silver Lake scored seven times in the first two innings to force Watertown-Mayer to play from behind from the outset in what turned into a 10-7 win for Glencoe-Silver Lake.

For the Royals, Weege had an RBI double in the first, Mark Sandquist drew a bases loaded walk in the third, and Nick Tschida drove in two with a single in the fourth that kept the Royals in the game, down 8-4 at the time. However, the Royals wasted chances to do even more damage, leaving six runners in scoring position.

“GSL made big plays to get out of tough innings to earn the win,” Stohs said.

Glencoe-Silver Lake tacked on two insurance runs in the fifth, which came in handy after the Royals added three runs in the seventh thanks to two GSL errors and a walk and a hit batter with the bases loaded.

The Royals got seven hits from seven different players in the loss. Weege took the loss on the mound.

 

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

 
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