LEGION BASEBALL: Royals claim 12-3 win at Kraft Field
Brandon Walters had a bad feeling early into the baseball game Wednesday.
The Grand Forks Royals right-hander gave up hits to the first three batters he faced and was behind 3-0 after pitching to just six Fargo Post 400 batters.
“In the back of my head I’m thinking, ‘They’re going to keep hitting it,’ ’’ Walters said. “I wasn’t hitting my spots. I was keeping my pitches up.
“But I didn’t let it get me down. I kept throwing strikes.’’
Walters recovered quickly. He finished with a complete game and a 12-3 American Legion baseball win at Kraft Field. The Royals completed the sweep with a 10-0 win in the second game as Jace Braathen pitched a 4-hit shutout.
After the rocky start, Walters wound up allowing just five hits, walking only one. He got stronger as the game progressed, retiring the final 13 batters he faced and 14 of the last 15.
“I was getting better control,’’ Walters said. “I was hitting my spots and keeping my pitches down. I’m not a big strikeout pitcher (none for the game). I have a great defense behind me; I let them do the work.’’
Shortstop Colin Hennessy led that defense, finishing with five assists and two putouts.
“Brandon was falling behind in the count early in the game,’’ Royals coach Nick Chine said. “They (Fargo hitters) were sitting on fastballs then. But he started getting ahead in the count and keeping them off balance. They didn’t know what to expect was coming.
“Brandon has thrown better games. But he was throwing on just three days’ rest. He did a good job on short rest.’’
The Royals pulled even by scoring three runs on sacrifice flies. Grand Forks broke the game open with an 8-run fourth inning. Chaise Anderson had a 2-run double, Brady Regimbal a 2-run single and Logan Montgomery knocked in two runs on two singles in the big inning.
Braathen was just as effective with even less rest than Walters. The right-hander allowed only one runner beyond second, striking out four.
“Jace just pitched three innings yesterday (Tuesday),’’ Chine said. “But with six games in the next three days, we had to use him. And he pitched really well. He throws strikes and changes speeds. He’s a kid who gives us a chance to win when he’s out there.’’
Hennessy sparked a fast-start offense in the second game. His 2-run single highlighted a 3-run first inning, and he singled in another run in the second as the Royals went ahead 5-0.