MANKATO — Five defensive errors and some early base-running blunders proved too much to overcome for the Mankato Royals Post 950 baseball team as the local squad fell to St. Cloud 9-5 in an elimination game of the VFW State Tournament Saturday.
The Royals took themselves out of potential rallies in the second and third innings by getting runners picked off second base with nobody out.
“That hurt us,” head coach Ethan Anderson said. “Instead of runners on first and second and nobody out, we have a runner on first with one out.”
Defensively, Mankato hurt itself with a couple of errors in the third inning. A two-base throwing error on a pick-off throw and another bad throw on a potential inning-ending grounder to second fueled a six-run inning for St. Cloud.
“We didn’t play well defensively,” Mankato center fielder Devin Ries said. “It’s been a problem for us throughout the season. Some games we do fine and other games we give runs away.”
Trailing 9-0 after three innings, Mankato made a game of it with a four-run fourth. An RBI-grounder by Tyler Hatlestad, a two-run double down the left-field line by Ries and another run-scoring double to left by Isaac Weber accounted for the rally.
Mankato tallied its final run in the top of the seventh on Josh Cook’s RBI single to left-center. Cook finished 3 for 4 with an RBI and Ries was 2 for 3 with an RBI.
Despite the miscues, Anderson said his team never gave up.
“We hung in there until the end,” he said. “We still had life until the final out.
“After we made some mistakes and fell behind I told the guys we had two options: We could sit around and mope or we could stay focused on the game and try to get back in it. They decided to get back in it.”
The Royals ended up fourth in the tournament with a 3-2 record. They ended the season with an overall mark of 18-17.
“We never quit fighting,” said Ries. “It would have been nice to play a few more games but we just didn’t play well enough to