(Editor’s Note: Watertown-Mayer won two more games on Tuesday, after this article was written, to advance the section finals on Thursday, June 6, at Belle Plaine, against St. Peter. The Royals must win twice to advance to state. The first game is at 5 p.m., and if the Royals win, the second game is immediately following the first.)
The Watertown-Mayer baseball team started last week with a 3-0 loss to Holy Family, but as of the start of this week, was still alive in the Section 5AA playoffs.
That’s because following the loss to the Fire, the state’s third-ranked team in Class AA, the Royals rebounded with a pair of wins in the double-elimination portion of the section tournament, helping them advance to action earlier this week, on Tuesday in Belle Plaine.
Following the loss to Holy Family on Tuesday, May 30, the Royals came back home to beat Belle Plaine on Thursday, May 30, by a score of 5-0. That kept the Royals alive to rout Tri City United, 13-2, on Saturday, June 1, in Belle Plaine.
With those two wins, the Royals advanced to face Holy Family once again on Tuesday at 5 p.m. in Belle Plaine. Holy Family was bumped to the loser’s bracket after a loss to Glencoe-Silver Lake.
The winner of that game between Holy Family and Watertown-Mayer advanced to play later on Tuesday evening against Glencoe-Silver Lake, which was bounced to the loser’s bracket by St. Peter. Whichever team emerged Tuesday from that group of three in Belle Plaine would play for the section title on Thursday, June 6, at 5 p.m. in Belle Plaine, but would need to beat St. Peter twice to win the section.
Holy Family 3, Royals 0
Holy Family got all the runs it needed in a well-played game between the Royals and Fire in a three-run fourth inning. Watertown-Mayer had its chances to put runs on the board, with at least one runner reaching in all seven innings, but couldn’t find a way to come up with a big hit.
Andrew Nichols and P.J. Hangartner both went 2-for-2 for Watertown-Mayer, and Brendan Weege was 2-for-4. Nick Tschida had the team’s only other hit.
Nichols also pitched a solid game on the mound, allowing only three runs in four innings on seven hits. Weege pitched two perfect innings in relief.
“The energy level has been incredible, and it has led to competitive and fun games to be part of,” Watertown-Mayer coach Justin Stohs said. “The guys are tied in and eager to play.”
Royals 5, Belle Plaine 0
Michael Herd threw a complete-game, two hit shutout as the Royals staved off elimination with a 5-0 win home win over Belle Plaine.
Herd surrendered a single to the second batter he faced in the first inning, but didn’t allow another baserunner until a leadoff single in the fourth. The next hitter reached on an error, but Herd escaped the damage, and allowed only two more baserunners the rest of the way, a two-out, bases-empty walk in the fifth inning and on a leadoff error in the seventh. No Belle Plaine runner even reached third base in the game.
“Michael Herd pitched a tremendous game and really competed on the mound,” Stohs said. “He kept the ball down, mixed up speeds and got a lot of ground balls and weak fly ball outs.”
The Royals got a run in the first on an RBI from Nichols and another in the third when Matt Elsenpeter led off with a triple and scored on a wild pitch. Watertown-Mayer plated three more insurance runs in the fourth.
The Royals had only six hits of their own in the game, but made them count. Weege was 2-for-3 and was the only Royals player with multiple hits.
“I could not have been more proud of our teams energy through the game,” Stohs said. “The guys are playing with a lot of heart and it’s exciting to see them compete.”
Royals 13, TCU 2
Facing elimination once again on Saturday, the Royals routed Tri City United 13-2 to stay alive. The Royals erased any doubt right from the outset, plating two runs in the first and six more in the second to take a big early lead. After the Royals added five more runs in the fourth, they were able to get out of Belle Plaine early with a five-inning win.
Weege went 2-for-3, drove in three runs and scored another to lead a Watertown-Mayer offense that featured three players with multiple hits. Joe Reinert was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run, and Nick Tschida was 2-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI. Hangartner had a hit and two RBIs, and Jordon Berrios was 1-for-3 with a run and two RBIs.
Nichols picked up the win on the mound, throwing all five innings and allowing two earned runs on seven hits.
“We got a great pitching performance from Andrew Nichols, played solid defense, and got solid hitting,” Stohs said. “Nichols was aggressive and made big pitches any time TCU threatened.”
Contact Matt Bunke at email@example.com