Royals sweep weekend homestand

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Matthew Acorn of the Prince Albert Under-18 Royals connects with the ball during Sunday’s contest against the Regina White Sox.

Under-18 squad off to a 6-1-1 start

What a difference a year makes for the Prince Albert Under-18 Royals.

After posting a 3-15 record in the Saskatchewan Premier Baseball League AA circuit in 2020, the club is off to a 6-1-1 start this season after winning all four of their games this weekend at Andy Zwack Field.

“Everyone’s hitting the ball and playing well, so it’s been a lot of fun so far, especially we’ve been racking up the runs,” Royals first baseman and pitcher Josh LaClaire said on Sunday.

“We were a young team last year and we didn’t have a lot of third year guys. We’ve all been in certain situations now and we’ve come into this season ready to play.”

After scoring five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning for a dramatic 15-14 win over the North Battleford Beavers in the first half of a doubleheader on Saturday, the Royals followed that up with a 14-9 triumph later that afternoon.

They would then pick up 11-1 and 14-11 triumphs over the Regina White Sox on Sunday, though the second game had some anxious moments as the White Sox scored six runs in the top of the seventh frame to close the gap and had brought the tying run to the plate.

“We’re just trying to keep things focused on our next game and not looking too far ahead,” Royals coach Geoff Gay said. “We had a few breakdowns this weekend but I thought the guys played some of the best defence that I’ve seen over the last couple of years.

“I’ve always said to our players that when we focus on defence, it allows out bats to be effective, as we end up pressing if our defence isn’t up to par. From what I’ve seen so far, we have a pretty deep lineup and different guys are taking advantage of their opportunities.”

Jack Mortimer and LaClaire did most of the damage this weekend as they drove in 11 RBI’s, while Bronson Paetsch brought home eight runners during the four-game set.

Mortimer currently leads the league with 19 RBI’s, while LaClaire and Paetsch are tied for second spot at 13.

The Royals, who are joined by the 6-1 Estevan Brewers at the top of the standings, will look to keep up their winning ways on Sunday as they’ll welcome the Moose Jaw Canucks to town for 12 and 3 p.m. matchups.

“That two-game weekend is going to be good for us,” Gay said. “It will allow us to go with our pitchers that our on their game and stick with that plan.”

“We’re just hoping to keep our consistency up, especially with the road games we have upcoming,” LaClaire added. “If we can do that, I think we’ll have a lot of success.”