by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
A circus catch by outfielder Reid Sagehorn started a game-ending double play as the Rogers Royals beat longtime nemesis St. Michael-Albertville 4-3 in eight innings on Tuesday in St. Michael.
Ryan Gelle went 4-for-4, Luke Selkin smacked a two-run single, and Kyle Ellis picked up his second win in relief of the season for the Royals (1-0 conference, 2-1 overall).
“That’s the most exciting game I’ve seen in a long time,” said Rogers coach Brian Harapat. He added, “We’re off to a good start. A lot better than last year when we started 0-5 after leading in four of them.”
STMA, the defending conference champion, had bases loaded and one out in the last of the eighth, trailing 4-2, when Jacob Dzubay hit a drive to deep left center, and Sagehorn made what Harapat described as “a sprawling, diving catch.”
The runner on third scored easily, but Harapat noticed that the runner on second was far from second base after the catch, and suspected he had left early. He directed his team throw to second base and the umpire agreed, calling the runner out.
Rogers scored twice in the top of the eighth as Gelle — who’s 8-for-11 in three games — singled and Mike Terres followed with a triple down the left-field line, then scored on a wild pitch. Terres was pinch-hitting as he sat out the game nursing a sprained ankle.
“Mike was raring to get in the game and we found a good spot for him,” said Harapat.
Rogers starter Adam Nauth pitched 6 2/3 solid innings, allowing seven hits and two runs. Ellis got out of the seventh with a strikeout and snagged the win after the shaky eighth when two walks and an error loaded the bases.
Berg rapped two singles and two doubles, scoring twice, in the No. 4 slot. Selkin singled home two runs in the second inning.
Tyler Berg and Henry Berning pitched for STMA.
Royals split with Duluth East
Rogers opened with a doubleheader split against Duluth East at home Saturday.
The Royals won the opener 7-6 with Gelle going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI. Gelle singled home the go-ahead run in the fourth inning, and Ellis made the lead stand as he threw 3 1/3 shutout innings in relief.
Duluth East took the second game 5-1 as Trevor Laakso shut them down in six hits. Grant Singleton took the loss. Rogers got some encouraging relief pitching as Tommy Como and Scott Neubauer notched two shutout innings each.