By Bruce Strand
Elk River Star News
A pair of two-run doubles by Ryan Gelle, and yet another complete-game win by Kyle Ellis, helped the Rogers Royals sweep a doubleheader from Buffalo 6-3 and 3-2 on Thursday.
Rogers knocked Buffalo out of contention for the Mississippi 8 title and earned a shot at the championship.
The Royals have a doubleheader Tuesday at Big Lake, with both teams 5-2 in conference to share the lead, and just one game to play after that. Buffalo is now 5-4.
“We’ve got a chance to win the title now. It’s good to have control of our destiny,” said coach Brian Harapat.
The Royals (7-3 overall) have won four straight.
“It’s nice to put together a win streak, after starting with a win-loss, win-loss, win-loss,” said Harapat.
The Royals have bounced back from a 7-13 season.
“We aren’t hitting as well as we did last year,” said Harapat, “but we are pitching way better and playing small ball. We’ve got 20 stolen bases and 10 sac bunts. We are built to win games 4-2 or 4-3. That’s what we have to do.”
Royals 6, Bison 3
Gelle is one shining light in the lineup. The senior cleanup hitter’s back-to-back, two-run doubles broke open the first game. He’s hitting .559 (19-for-34) with 10 doubles and nine RBI. Those big hits made up for a two-run error earlier in the game when he missed a grounder.
Luke Selkin got the win with 3 2/3 shutout innings in relief, allowing two hits and no walks. It was the junior’s first varsity win. He relieved Adam Nauth.
Bryanlee Santiage-Martines had two hits for Rogers and Caleb Reese singled home a run.
For Buffalo, taking the loss was Kyle Cole. Andy Iverson had an RBI single for the Bison.
Royals 3, Bison 2
Ellis notched his third complete-game win, and second this week, spacing out eight hits, walking one and striking out three. The junior right-hander is 5-0 (two wins came in relief) with a 1.09 ERA in 25 2/3 innings.
(Harapat pointed out that Nauth has been pitching well, too, with a 1.09 ERA in 18 innings, but hasn’t had much hitting support. His record is 0-1.)
Mike Terres broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth with a bloop single that scored Reese from second. Kyle Halseth also had an RBI single for Rogers.
Josh Munoz pitched 5 2/3 innings for Buffalo and took the loss. A reliever gave up the hit to Terres. Brennan Gilyard had a sac fly for the Bison, and later doubled and scored on a hit by Jay Bollum.
Royals 3, C-I 0
Kyle Ellis twirled a one-hitter and picked up his fourth win of the season as the Rogers Royals tripped Cambridge-Isanti 3-0 Tuesday, May 7.
Ellis, who’s won twice in relief and twice on complete games, walked one batter and hit two batters, and struck out three. He outdueled the Bluejackets’ ace, Jeff Johnson, who threw a four-hitter.
The Royals bunched those four hits into one inning, the sixth, to score all three runs.
Scott Neubauer broke up the no-hitter and Bryanlee Santiago-Martinez followed with a bunt single. A wild pitch moved the runners up. With one out, Caleb Reese singled home a run. Another scored on a ground out and Kyle Halseth followed with another RBI single.
Royals lose to STMA
The Royals lost to St. Michael-Albertville 3-1 on Monday, May 6. Adam Knauth was the hard-luck losing pitcher giving up three unearned runs. Tyler Berg threw a five-hitter with four strikeouts for the Knights.