Pitching paramount in pair of WMHS wins

Royals’ second baseman Andy Opheim throws out a runner at first base during Friday’s win over HLWW. (News staff photo by Christopher Officer)
Royals’ second baseman Andy Opheim throws out a runner at first base during Friday’s win over HLWW. (News staff photo by Christopher Officer)

Mound dominance continues to be the strength early in the season for WMHS baseball, as the Royals capped off a 3-0 home stand, first by beating Norwood Young America 4-2 on April 22, then taking down Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted 3-1 on Friday.

The Royals have been searching for scoring and struggling in early innings,  but that hasn’t hindered their performance on the mound. During the Royals’ current three-game win streak, they’ve surrendered just three earned runs on 16 hits.

Against NYA, Royals’ pitcher Michael Herd went five innings, allowing six hits and one earned run while striking out six.

“Another well pitched and played game for the Royals,” said coach Justin Stohs.

After working himself out of a few jams throughout his night, Herd was relieved by Travis Bradley who went an inning and a third. With NYA threatening in the seventh, Bill Stauffer came in to relieve Bradley – continuing the trend.

“Stauffer did a great job coming in under pressure and got a big double play ball to finish the game and seal the victory,” said Stohs.

With the score tied at one in the sixth, the Royals platted three runs in the bottom half of the inning, taking a 3-1 lead. Zach Iten’s single scored two and Travis Bradley added his own RBI single to culminate the inning.

“In the last two games, it has been nice seeing the guys playing complete games – on the mound, on the field and at the plate,” said Stohs. “We have been able to keep things close with pitching and defense, and have found ways to put together big innings.”

Friday’s win over the HLWW Lakers again showcased the Royals’ stout pitching staff.

Iten and Andrew Nichols paired up to allow just one run on five Laker hits.

The Royals’ bats were silent all game, as HLWW pitcher Jordan Steffer effectively shut down the WMHS sticks. Trailing 1-0, the Royals again found rejuvenation in the sixth. Three hits off the bats of Jordan Berrios, Brett Johnson and Nate Zellman put together three runs and the Royals came out on top.

Friday’s sixth inning splash was yet another late inning eruption for the Royals– making it their third in as many games. Over the last three games, the Royals have scored a total of 10 runs in the sixth inning alone, and just three in all other innings combined.

Despite the wins, coach Stohs wouldn’t mind successfully swinging the bat a little earlier in games.

“It’s great to see our guys finishing games strong. However, we discussed with our players that it was okay to score before the sixth inning,” said Stohs. “Our pitching and defense is keeping us in games. It would be nice to score earlier and start taking control of games.”


Contact Christopher Officer at [email protected]