Acting as a send-off from Kraft Field for the regular season, the Grand Forks Royals left their home turf on a high note with a strong offensive showing against the Minot Vistas. In their doubleheader, the Royals took both games, a 12-0 and 3-2 win.
This has been a common theme for Legion Baseball when visiting Kraft Field. Entering the doubleheader on Wednesday, the Royals have outscored opponents 87-41 in 10 games at home with a 7-3 record.
“We’ve actually been doing a pretty good job of hitting the ball since the break. As long as we continue to do that we’ll be in a lot of games,” Grand Forks coach Nick Chine said. “Whatever it is, if I could put my finger on it and bottle it, I would take it with us (on the road). Hopefully, it’s just a mental approach. A little confidence and we can go from there.”
With the rise in batting efficiency and consistency in pitching all year for the Royals, Chine is hoping their mental mistakes are the next aspect to turn the corner.
“Our pitching keeps us in a lot of games, but our biggest enemy has always been ourselves. If we just stay out of our own way defensively and don’t give them extra opportunities, we’re right in it and are a tough team to beat,” he said.
That would not be a problem for them on Wednesday.
The Royals started game one off with a bang. Gunnar Heuchert led off the bottom of the first with a solo home run over the left-field wall. This was followed by a deep double off the same wall by Zach Carolin, bringing in two more runs.
Continuing the onslaught in the second, a single from Matt Scribner and a double from Ryan Muizelaar brought in two more and after just six outs from the Vistas, Grand Forks held a strong 7-0 lead.
In the 12-0 final, Scribner pushed the pace on offense for Grand Forks. He finished with four hits and two RBIs in the game one win and would score two more runs in game two.
The back-to-back wins bring the Royals record to 15-12 on the year as they now enter a six-game road trip to finish off the regular season before heading into the state tournament. And even though the hot bats have come just recently, Chine has seen improvement from his squad every step of the way.
“We have progressed from day one. We have continued to improve in a lot of areas. The scoreboard doesn’t always show that, but we have. After 27 years of doing this, I recognize growth, development, understanding in the game within the players,” said Chine.
The goal now is to bring the second-half heat on the road and catch other teams off-guard heading into the postseason. If their last six games are the start of a trend, the Royals should be in for a strong showing at the end of the month.
Since July 1, they have outscored opponents 62-19, with another series against Minot coming up on July 19.
“We always want to move forward. It is very easy in sports to stay stagnant or, typically, go backward. Either you’re getting better or you’re getting worse. We’re continuing to get better, so as long as that trend continues we should be set up to make some people nervous and have a good state tournament,” said Chine.
The Royals begin their road trip Thursday as they travel to Bemidji for a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m.