WATERTOWN – Coming into the day, the Watertown-Mayer baseball had a chance to show just how good they are. Mission accomplished.
After holding off Glencoe-Silver Lake in the first of two games, the Royals rode that momentum to a sweep of the top-ranked team in Class AA to stay perfect on the season with a 7-5 and 8-1 win over the Panthers Tuesday night.
“The first game was ugly and we survived,” Royals coach Ryan Trucke said. “I think the big thing was after surviving the first one and getting the win, we came out and played really well in the second game. It was a good day. They’ve dominated this conference for years. To win two against them is huge.”
“It feels great,” senior Albert Rundell added. “They’re a pretty good team. We knew we had to bring the energy and played pretty well today and that’s what we did. We got two wins against a top 10 ranked team.”
After being forced to hold onto the win in the first game, W-M set the tone early that there would be no letting down. Instead of being content with one win, the Royals took control of the game early and never looked back to pick up the sweep in the process.
“This group is really good about refocusing and resetting,” Trucke said. “Whether it’s an at-bat or when they’re pitching, they are really good at that. Good teams split. If you want to be great you win both. That’s all I said between games. Great teams sweep and we did.”
Game one came down to doing all the little things for the Royals. W-M turned three double plays and got out of a big jam in the sixth inning to keep their lead intact. G-SL had runners on second and third with nobody out in a one-run game, Ben Trucke was able to pick off the runner at second for the first out of the inning. A groundball to first turned into a double play for W-M as they escaped the inning without allowing a run on just two pitches.
“What made the difference was the pick-off at second base,” Trucke said. “When Ben came in and picked him off, we got a little momentum going and had some energy. Then we turned the double play to get out of that inning and rolled from there. I think that one play was huge. We always talk about the little things. You got to do the little things to win. There’s a million of them and you’re never sure which one is going to come up big in a game.”
After watching the Panthers let a scoring chance slip away in the top half of the inning, W-M responded in their half of the inning. The Royals tagged on three big insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth to seal the win and hand the Panthers just their second loss of the season.
“Our coach has always preached doing the little things,” Rundell said. “If we do the little things, big things will come. If we do that, everything will fall into place.”
W-M had six different players record at least one hit in the first win of the night. That included the eighth (Connor Donovan) and ninth (Ashton Hecksel) hitters to start a two-out rally in the bottom of the fourth to extend their lead to two after G-SL tied the game in the third.
“We’ve gotten contributions from all over our lineup,” Trucke said. “They’ve done a good job from one to 13. If one guy has a bad day, somebody else is picking them up. It’s huge when everybody can do a job. Those eight and nine guys have been getting pinched hit for lately. They did a good job of getting on base and staying with it. When you get hit for every time, you can just quit. They did a really good job today.”
The Royals rolled in game two to complete the sweep thanks to a gem on the mound from Rundell. He allowed just one run in six innings of work while allowing just three hits.
The win for W-M moves them to 8-0 on the season. Although the pair of wins is nice, the Royals know they have a big stretch ahead with another conference game with Rockford coming up along with a road trip north to take on two of the state’s best.
“We have 12 games in 10 days,” Trucke said. “This is the test. Rockford is always tough. Then Saturday we’re going to see two of the best teams in the state by design. We knew we were going to be a pretty good team this year so that’s a good test for us to see where we measure up.”
“10 games in 12 days (is a lot),” Rundell added. “We’re trying to come out of that 10-0. That means every game is a big game. We’re trying to win big games.”
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