Dawson Patterson went three for three at the dish, collecting two RBI’s as part of the Prince Albert Royals’ 8-6 win over the Saskatoon Blue Jays on Wednesday night at Andy Zwack Field.
Starting pitcher Nick Dutchak threw a strong six innings of work, striking out eight batters while giving up three earned runs in the win, as the Royals put the brakes on a three game losing skid.
“Overall it was a good game and the boys executed,” coach Pat Robin said. “We got some really good pitching from Nick again and we had some really good at bats. We didn’t chase any bad pitches at the plate which was good.”
Dutchak escaped a first inning jam fairly unscathed giving up just one run. A walk and a pair of singles to start the game for Saskatoon helped the Blue Jays open the scoring. But with runners on second and third, Dutchak got Addie Ziebart to pop out to short, and struck out Reid Kovach to end the inning.
Lukas Robin reached second base in the bottom half after two errors from the Saskatoon side to start the frame. Carter Gladstone came up to the plate next and reached base on another error by the first baseman, which also allowed Robin to score on the play. After Patterson was hit by a pitch and Bronson Parker singled, Dutchak drove home the former after grounding out to first base. The two errors committed by the Blue Jays in the first inning allowed the Royals to take a 2-1 lead into the second.
Dutchak settled into the game from there, going three up, three down over the next two innings. Prince Albert added another two runs in the bottom of the second to jump ahead 4-2.
Two singles and a double in the top of the fourth brought the Blue Jays back in the game, as Ziebart and Blair Bock touched home plate in the frame, making it a 4-3 deficit. However, the Royals responded with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the fourth inning. After two straight walks to start, Cody Morash singled home Cole Bolotniuk to make it 5-3. Three batters later, Patterson knocked home a pair of runs with a two out single to make it a 7-3 spread through four busy innings.
“We had some really big walks in the game,” Robin said. “It was just a good day for us on the offensive side of the ball.”
The Royals went ahead 8-3 in the bottom of the fifth, while Saskatoon mounted a late comeback attempt with a three run seventh inning, but fell short as Prince Albert took the contest by an 8-6 final.
Aside from the offensive display at the plate in the game, Robin was especially pleased with the way his group played on the defensive side of the ball. He said limiting their errors from start to finish put them in a chance to win the game.
“We made plays when it mattered the most,” he said. “They were timely plays on defence that we were able to make. We had a double play in the top of the sixth that stood out to end the inning. We made some good catches too. That eliminated a lot of potential runs. Nick pitched an excellent game; he had three innings that were basically flawless. When he is on the mound, we have our best defensive lineup on the field, and we set up the best that way.”
Robin has done a lot of moving players around on the diamond over the last handful of games. Whether it’s moving an infielder to the outfield or vice-versa, he has been trying to find the winning recipe to getting consistent outs and shrinking the number of errors. He believes that the team is getting closer every game to finding that perfect rhythm on defense.
“I’ve moved kids around just for defensive reasons,” he explained. “I told our kids after the game that we’re a team and we need to be team orientated. We need to accept our new roles. We’re in games when we play defensive minded baseball. We’re approaching the halfway point of the season this weekend, and I told the boys that I don’t want to see games where we commit ten or more errors a game anymore. Sometimes that means moving positions and finding what works for us.”
Robin was also happy with the way his team approached their at bats. Not forcing plays or swinging at bad pitches was one of the reasons that they were able to draw five walks in the game. Not only reaching base on free passes, but cashing in those runners was a key point all game long for Robin.
“We did a good job of taking their pitchers deep into counts. We talked about that from the get-go. A good at bat is one that you’re battling in, and you’re taking the pitcher deep in the counts. I don’t remember one kid swinging at any high pitches in the game. We had some kids make really good contact on their swings, which is good confidence for them. It was just an overall good game.
“I’m happy that the boys got the win, and we’re going to move forward. The Blue Jays are a similar skill level to us, and we match really well with them.”
The Royals (4-8) hit the road for a pair of weekend games. Their first stop will be in Marysburg for a game against the Weyburn Brewers on Saturday. The team will travel to Muenster on Sunday afternoon for their first meeting of the year with the Parkland Expos.