The Prince Albert U18 Royals kicked off their season in Moose Jaw on Sunday, where they went an even 1-1. They won their first game of the year 3-1 over the Moose Jaw Canucks, thanks largely in part to the performance of starting pitcher Nick Dutchak.
Royals coach Pat Robin says he was happy for his team to pull out a win in their first game, and spoke highly of Dutchak after his outing.
“I was happy for Nick, because that was his first time on the mound,” Robin said. “It was a perfect game for him to start, because he was never under any pressure. There was no sense of panic. Moose Jaw wasn’t a very strong hitting team, so it was the perfect game for him to play just to get some experience.”
Dutchak was dealing for six innings, allowing just three hits and one earned run, while punching out 13 batters. Carter Gladstone, Lukas Robin, and Kayden Burns each had an RBI in the win.
“We generated three runs, which was good, but Nick starred in that game,” Robin said.
“I felt really good out there,” Dutchak said about his opening day start. “I felt like I was in mid-season form out there, and it was a confidence booster after that first start. I realized that I was actually capable of doing something like that. The bats were a little quiet, and I was doing my best to help keep the team in the game, and I was able to do it.
“We’re a team that goes out there and has good at bats. We make pitchers work, and we’re pretty calm, cool, and collected on defense. We just have to look to get a spark going early, and that will give us success. Pat puts a lot of trust in us, and he knows that we can go out there and do our own thing and try to help the team win. We can get big outs when we need it, and I think that’s a weight off the shoulders.”
The Royals dropped their second game on Sunday, 17-4 to the powerhouse Assiniboia Aces. It was a game that was filled with errors on the Royals side, and things started to go downhill from the first inning.
“Assiniboia is a good team,” Robin said. “We played them two times over the last two years at provincial tournaments, and we folded each time by serving them up easy wins with our errors. On Sunday, we just handed them an easy win. They didn’t beat us, we beat ourselves. We make simple little errors, and it just stacks up. We weren’t hitting good either, we were making bad swings.
“We’re not going to be as good as we were last year, but I think we’ll be around the middle of the pack out of the 16 teams. We’re not going to be the best hitting team, we’re pretty weak in that department. Too many of our kids have bad habits of chopping wood or taking their eye off the ball, but I’m hoping that will get better throughout the year.”
The Royals will be back in Prince Albert for their first home game of the year on Saturday, May 14 against the Regina White Sox. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.