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Royals wrap up season at the state tournament

LLOYD PRICE – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR

Royals baseball team

The Royals, back row, from left: coach Brad Kropinak, Maverick Price, Hayden Shackel, Tyler Ammann, Blair Goodreau and coach Ben Paskal. Front row: Taylor Wolstenholme, Josh Foster, Luc Lavorato, Ryan Cook, Aiden Kidd, Cole Bennett. Missing are Jake Hansen and Stephen Schuweiler.

Entering into the American Legion State A baseball tournament in Polson, Mont. as the second seeded team from the Northern District, few people would give the Fort Macleod Royals much of a chance, especially after the drubbing they received from the first-place Great Falls Electrics.
Royals 6 Libby Loggers 1
Doubters may have forgotten about the Royals ace pitcher, Jake Hansen. With 19 strike-outs and allowing only four hits, one walk, and one unearned run, Hansen led the Royals to a convincing 6-1 win over Libby Loggers in the first game.
Helping himself out at the plate, Hansen was 2-for-3 with a single, double, two RBIs and scored twice. Taylor Wolstenholme also had two hits including a solo home run. Maverick Price scored twice and had an RBI, and Ryan Cook and Aiden Kidd each had one hit and Kidd also scored.
Next game was against the Laurel Dodgers who advanced by beating the Dillon Cubs 5-4.
What many would consider a surprise if not an upset was Missoula Mariners, the host team, 10-running the Great Falls Electrics 16-6. Great Falls went undefeated in league play this year as did Libby.
Laurel Dodgers 7 Royals 4
Coming off their impressive win on Thursday the Royals were still feeling pretty good about themselves. The Laurel Dodgers, however, are the two-time defending Montana state champions and boast a 44-13 overall record this year.
The Royals won the toss, giving them home field advantage. In the top of the first they gave up a run but got it back on their side of the inning. Hayden Shackel slammed a double, then got to third and eventually home on passed balls.
After giving up two unearned runs in the second, the teams played tight ball until the Royals got some hits and heads-up base running to score three and go ahead 4-3. Laurel did the same thing in the sixth, scoring twice and a solo home run in the seventh the end the scoring.
The Royals bats cooled off some from previous games, especially against the Dodgers reliever who pitched the last three innings, striking out five. Leaving seven men on base also contributed.
On the mound Taylor Wolstenholme may have pitched his best game, going the complete nine innings and striking out 10 along the way, allowing 10 hits and walking two. Without his stellar performance the defensive gaffs could have predicated a much different outcome.
Offensively, Luke Lavorato was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Wolstenholme, Price, Shack, Blair Goodreau and Cole Bennett each had one hit. Jake Hansen and Shackel also recorded RBI.
Electrics 29 Royals 2
What is it about this Great Falls team and the shellacking they lay onto the royals every time they meet? How is it they never have to go up against Hansen? Why does the Royals defence regress to Little League-like performance? What gives?
Whether others had those questions or not, Scoop sure did but of course they can never really be answered.
The Electrics had been 10-runned in their first game against Mission Valley and barely pulled out a come-from-behind victory in extra innings against Billings. Both teams need to win this game or they are out.
The game started out okay. First inning, first batter, Wolstenholme hits a double, steals third and Shack RBIs him in. Turns out those were two of only five hits all game and the only RBI.
The Electrics came back with four runs even though pitcher Maverick Price struck out three batters. Top of the third Price singles, stole second and third and then came home on a passed ball for Fort Macleod’s final score.
Bottom of three and with two outs the floodgates opened. Price left after 2 2/3 innings, striking out six, allowing 11 runs on six hits. Shackel lasted an inning, Ryan Cook pitched 2/3 of an inning and Lavorato chucked 2/3 of an inning.
Young rookies Josh Foster and Aiden Kidd got into the game in its latter stages, a tough situation, but they competed nonetheless.
It was a rather sad and embarrassing way to end their season and the Royals players and coaches were all feeling it. On the positive side they had a good season, finished second at the district and won a game and were very much in the second game at state when some predicted they would be out in two straight.
The Royals will have a team wind-up soon and then look forward to next year when this will only be a vague memory in the face of a new season and the possibilities it holds when the ump yells, “Play ball!” prior to that first pitch.

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