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AREA BASEBALL NOTEBOOK: Royals have power surges

Good things are coming in pairs for the Grand Forks Royals' offense. Entering Wednesday's doubleheader against Valley City, the Royals have hit 12 home runs this American Legion baseball season. They frequently seem to come two at a time. Alex Mo...

Good things are coming in pairs for the Grand Forks Royals' offense.

Entering Wednesday's doubleheader against Valley City, the Royals have hit 12 home runs this American Legion baseball season. They frequently seem to come two at a time.

Alex Moe and John Greicar each have hit two home runs all of them came in the same game, at West Fargo. Sean Potter leads the team with four home runs, two of them coming in one game, against Bismarck, and the other two in one doubleheader, hitting one in the first game and another in the second against Wahpeton.

"We've tried to explain it," Royals coach Gabe Dahl said of the home runs coming in bunches. "And we can't. I don't know what to say about it. We can't figure it out.

"When a hitter is locked in, the ball does seem to slow down and look bigger. When you're swinging the bat well, things go your way. So when people are hitting home runs, they do sometimes come in bunches."

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Alex Kreis also has a pair of home runs, while Andy Sadler and Peter Brekke have one each.

"The home runs have been a pleasant surprise," Dahl said. "I never would have guessed that we'd have 12 home runs at this point in the season, or that one guy would have four.

"Sean's been swinging the bat really well. We just don't see him as a big home run hitter. When you're getting production like he's given us from the seventh spot in the order, it really helps."

North dominates

in Sipe Classic

The North team dominated the annual Tony Sipe Senior Classic. The North beat the South 17-0 in the Minnesota Legion all-star game Sunday in Argyle.

Roseau's Joey Benke was named the game's most valuable player, going 3-for-5 with a home run, four runs batted in and four runs scored. Also hitting home runs were Kyle Nowacki (Warroad), Matt Yeager (Crookston) and Nathan Voll (Roseau). Jared Larson of Roseau was the winning pitcher.

Nowacki won the annual home run hitting contest.

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Hatton shows

quality depth

Offense has sparked Hatton's American Legion baseball team to an 18-10 record.

Hatton is averaging seven runs a game. There's quality depth, as nine of the team's 13 players are batting better than .300. Kyle Funseth and Tony Lenz lead the way, hitting .677 and .500, respectively. Ben Strand, David Dafforn and Eric Dafforn are hitting better than .400, while Blake Sagerholm and Tyler Bilden are batting above .375.

"We're so balanced," Hatton coach Chad Omdahl said. "We can plug any one of our guys into the lineup and we don't have a significant dropoff. Good hitting has been a characteristic of our team lately, and this bunch likes to hit.

"If we play defense, just making the routine plays, and our pitchers throw strikes, we can be a dangerous team."

Hatton has struggled at times putting teams away. In one of their losses, they squandered an 8-0 lead. In four losses, Hatton took leads into the final inning.

"We've had some late-inning collapses," Omdahl said. "We made mistakes and didn't deserve to win those games. We're working on getting a little more mentally tough so that hopefully we can put away those kinds of games."

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Roseau struggles

with inconsistency

Roseau's last two doubleheaders are indicative of the up-and-down American Legion season the team has had.

On Tuesday, Roseau accumulated 18 hits and 23 runs in sweeping East Grand Forks. But in Roseau's previous doubleheader, it was swept 4-2 and 7-1 on Saturday by Moorhead, a power in Minnesota's District 9 Division I.

"It's something we kind of expected," Roseau coach Mark Cooper said of the team's inconsistency. "We haven't had the same lineup for more than a few times. The kids aren't always able to be at games; (how we do) depends on who's doing what and who's there each week."

Roseau has a strong nucleus, with Joe Benke, Nathan Voll, Jared Larson, Issiah Hruby, Alex Orgon and Kurt Weston all hitting better than .300. Benke is going to St. Cloud State to play baseball, while Orgon and Voll plan to play junior college ball at Itasca.

"After those (six) guys, we're pretty young," Cooper said. "We've tried to get the lineup worked out so that we can spread our good bats out."

Littlejohn gets

key strikeouts

Ethan Littlejohn spent Monday night working out of trouble.

The right-hander pitched a two-hitter, striking out 10, as Grafton edged Munich 3-2 in five innings. In the second and fifth innings, he got out of bases-loaded, no-out jams without allowing a run, and Munich also left the bases loaded in the first after scoring twice.

"I've had high blood pressure until I got it under control recently," Grafton coach Chad Kliniske said. "But Ethan was making it tough for me to keep it down. When I get nervous, I start to fidget and walk around in the dugout. In that last inning, I must have put on a mile and a half."

Littlejohn got two straight strikeouts to close the first inning, and struck out three straight with the bases loaded in the second and fifth.

Littlejohn improved to 3-1. He has a 4.15 earned run average.

"Ethan has electric stuff, but he goes through lapses with his control," Kliniske said. "He's been a bright spot for us. When he's throwing strikes, he's tough to hit. He's probably only 5-foot-8, 140 pounds, but he throws pretty hard for a guy that small."

DeVillers can be reached at (800) 477-6572, ext. 128, (701) 780-1128 or by e-mail at gdevillers@gfherald.com .

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