Royals drop second straight to Athletics

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Prince Albert Royals pitcher Brady Robin prepares to deliver a pitch during Tuesday's contest with the Saskatoon Athletics at Andy Zwack Field.

As a whole, the Prince Albert Under-18 Royals had a much better showing in their first meeting with the Saskatoon Athletics since they suffered a 16-3 home loss to them last week.

However, some stellar pitching by their Saskatchewan Premier Baseball League AA division opponents proved to be too much to overcome.

In their final home game of the regular season at Andy Zwack Field, the 9-4-1 Royals suffered a 6-1 setback to the 8-3 Athletics on Tuesday evening and now sit in a tie for third place in the league standings with the Unity Cardinals.

“We corrected the defensive gaps that we had last week against Saskatoon and our pitching was a lot stronger this time around, but now we’re going to have to focus on our hitting,” Royals coach Geoff Gay said.

“In three of our last four games, we’ve run into some pretty good pitching and our bats have gone cold.”

Kael Flynn turned in a dominating performance on the mound for the sixth-ranked Athletics, as he sat down 12 batters over the course of five innings.

Stratton Mair also stymied the Royals bats as he had six strikeouts in the final two frames.

“The velocity has been higher from our opponents in the last few games, so our batters have to do a better job of getting their timing down at the plate,” Gay said. “It’s just a matter of getting up there and having a plan when they go up to bat.”

Evan Hinkle led the way at the dish for the Athletics with a pair of hits, one of which was a triple, and two runs batted in.

The Royals got their lone run in the sixth inning off a double by Jack Mortimer, while Brady Robin and Ben Lefebvre combined for six strikeouts in the loss.

“We came in with a plan of attack against their better hitters tonight,” Gay said. “We wanted to place the ball rather than just going down the middle with fastballs.”

The Royals will now prepare for a 10-game road trip to conclude their regular season.

They will start that swing Saturday with a doubleheader against the 9-4-1 Cardinals in Unity before facing the 3-10-1 Lloydminster Twins in a pair of games on Sunday.

“We’ve had a few of those four-game weekends already, which is a lot of games in a short amount of time no matter where they are taking place,” Gay said.

“Fatigue’s a factor during those busy weekends, so it’s going to be very important to make sure that we get our proper rest and that we’re focused for all four games.”