Royals going on the road to face Beavers in playoff matchup

Daily Herald File Photo Josh LaClaire watches a ball head into the outfield during a Prince Albert Royals home game at Andy Zwack Field last month.

The situation is simple for the Prince Albert Royals Under-18 baseball team.

If the sixth seeded Royals can come away with an upset over the third-ranked North Battleford Beavers at Beaver Lions Stadium on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m., they will earn a date spot in the quarter-final round with a Saskatoon Blue Jays side that rattled off a 16-0 record this season.

If they lose, however, their 2020 Saskatchewan Premier AA Baseball League midget division campaign will come to an end.

“Our two teams are pretty similar in style,” Royals manager Geoff Gay said. “They might have a little more offence than us, but I’m expecting a tight game on Tuesday.

“I’m feeling good about the fact that a lot of our guys have been in these big-game situations. Of the 11 players on our roster, seven of them have won a provincial championship and eight of them were silver medalists two years later. They know how to play in these tight playoff games.”

Tuesday’s contest, which is also a quarter-final contest for the league’s Northern Division, marks the fourth meeting of the campaign between the 12-7-1 Beavers and the 3-14 Royals.

The Royals split a doubleheader at home on July 5 with a 13-2 triumph and a 17-14 loss, while the Beavers earned revenge in North Battleford on July 19 with 9-2 and 17-13 victories.

“They are obviously going to be the favourites, but I felt like we played well against them all year,” Gay said.

“We actually held the lead on them deep into the game during three out of the four meetings, so I think it’s going to be a very competitive game on Tuesday.”

The Royals suffered a pair of close losses in Saskatoon this past week ahead of their playoff encounter.

They dropped a narrow 6-4 contest to the 12-4 Saskatoon Braves on Thursday and lost a wild 11-10 contest to the 1-15 Assiniboia Aces on Sunday afternoon.

“I’m really proud of how the guys played against the Braves, as they had beaten us by 15 runs earlier in the season,” Gay said. “We held the lead going into the sixth inning, but we made a few mental mistakes and that allowed the Braves to pull ahead.

“Our game against Assiniboia was a really exciting one as it came down to the last at-bat. With the way that the pitch count rules are in our league, we wanted to make sure that all of our pitchers are going to be available for our game against North Battleford, so we gave some of our younger guys the chance to get on the mound for that game.”

In the Royals recent games, Gay has been impressed with the amount of contributions the squad has received from all over the lineup, which he hops to see against the Beavers on Tuesday.

“One of the things that we always preach to the guys is that we need to be hitting up and down the batting order,” Gay said.

“We’ve really seen that start to emerge over the last few games, especially at the bottom of the order from our younger guys, which is great to see.”