BILLINGS — After their second victory over the Billings Scarlets in four days, the Billings Royals are on a roll.
Bubba Bergen delivered the big hit, Lance Schaaf pitched into the sixth inning and the Royals capitalized on their opportunities in an 8-3 American Legion baseball Class AA conference victory over their crosstown rivals Monday at Pirtz Field.
The victory was the Royals’ (17-6, 2-0) fifth in a row.
“Rivalry games are always good to win,” said Bergen, who finished with four RBIs and scored a run. “We are playing pretty good. We have a good approach at the plate, good energy and our trusting our teammates.”
Bergen had the key hit of the game for the Royals, a three-run standup double to left-center in the second inning to give his team a 3-0 lead.
Overall the Royals scored five runs in the second on two hits, three errors, two walks and two hit batters. Of the four free passes, three of the runners scored.
“It felt good. We started early,” Bergen said. “We executed when they walked us.”
Overall, eight Royals were walked in the game and another two were hit by a pitch. The Scarlets also had four errors. Five of the Royals batters who reached after either being hit by a pitch or a walk wound up scoring.
“It’s pretty tough to defend against that for sure,” said Scarlets coach Adam Hust of the walks, adding it’s a problem the Scarlets “have to fix.”
Schaaf, a lefty, pitched the first 5 2/3 innings for the Royals. He struck out seven, walked four and hit a batter and left with a 7-0 lead.
“My fastball and curveball were good early and later in the game I had to rely on control and a little cutter at the end,” he said. “It all felt good.”
In the Royals’ winning streak, their starting pitching has been key. Reagan Walker went the five-inning distance in an 11-1 win over the Scarlets on Friday. CJ Bohn threw five innings and allowed one run in a 9-1 win over Casper (Wyoming) on Saturday, and Max Keller went all seven frames in a 5-2 victory over the Great Falls Chargers on Sunday.
“We like to have pride in the final score,” said Schaaf. “No matter who is pitching we want to be a good pitching team. It helps the team a lot.”
For the Scarlets (5-8, 0-2), Michael Feralio had a two-run single, that combined with an error, brought a third runner home in the seventh.
“They won’t give up and will play hard,” Hust said. “We have to find a way to stop the walks. That’s been our Achilles’ heel this season.”
The Scarlets are at the Bozeman Bucks for a pair of conference games on Wednesday and in Helena on Saturday and Sunday for four conference games.
Next up for the Royals is a tourney in Mandan, North Dakota, Friday through Sunday. The Royals will play two games on both Friday and Saturday. The top two seeds advance to the title game Sunday.
“I’m really happy with how we are playing,” said Royals coach David Swecker. “There are some things we can clean up. Hopefully we can keep it up for the Mandan tourney.”