Royals hoping for fast start at state tournament

By Troy Young

Most teams with any hopes of playing on Labor Day enter this weekend's state amateur baseball tournament with the belief that they must win that first game. Rochester Royals player-manager Jeff Milene takes it a step further.

"The way I have it figured, if you lose one of your first three, you have a really tough task ahead of you," Milene said. "The way the tournament is set up, you almost have to win your first three."

The Royals face Dassel-Cokato on Friday in Cold Spring, Minn., in the first round of the Class B state tournament. Win or lose, the Royals won't play again until Aug. 22 or 23. If the Royals beat D-C, they face the winner of the Mankato Twins and Hastings Hawks at 5 p.m. on Aug. 23. If they lose, the face the loser of the Twins/Hawks at 5 p.m. on Aug. 22.


The Royals beat Dassel-Cokato 3-1 earlier this season, when Eric Ruopsa pitched for Rochester. He won't see D-C this time.

Mark Skrukrud, who won three games for the Royals in last year's state tournament, will start Friday. Skrukrud is 6-5 with a 2.89 ERA. Three of his six losses were 1-0 games. Andy Larson will likely pitch for the Royals next weekend. Larson is 8-1 with a 1.63 ERA.

"Numbers wise, you could say we should start Andy," Milene said. "The difference between Andy and Skrukrud right now is Skrukrud does not give free passes. He does not walk people or hit people."

"But right now, we have two No. 1 guys going into the tournament. We may go our first two games with Skrukrud, then our third game with Andy."

Milene says host Cold Spring, back-to-back defending state champions, is the favorite. Austin, Milene said, could be the other favorite.

"Austin has a good chance of winning it, too, with their good pitchers and the good defense they play."

More than 100 fans made the four-hour trek to Willmar, Minn., last weekend to watch St. Charles, managed by Scott McCready, play in the Division II state tournament, where they finished third.…; Reggie Stevens, who was named the tournament's most valuable player, returned home late Sunday, then drove to Winona early Monday morning to begin football practice with Division II Winona State.

The Bob Gibbons scouting service had good words to say about LeRoy-Ostrander's Chad Orum, who will be one of the best basketball players in the area this fall. "I came away very impressed with Chad's play…; Excellent free-throw shooter, smooth shot, good athlete. Also showed he could score from the low post…; A high level Division II or low level Division I prospect." Orum is a 6-7 player for the Minnesota Select team, made up of Minnesota high school players who are mainly Div. II prospects. The team won the Dakota Showcase and finished second in the Kentucky Hoopfest.


Rochester native Matt Addington, who coaches boys basketball at Albert Lea, will marry Leah Schliep (Zumbrota) Oct. 5 in Zumbrota. Addington teaches art at Albert Lea, and Schliep is an agriculture teacher at Blue Earth Area.

Century graduate and University of Minnesota swimmer Juleen Rodakowski will be swimming at the 2002 Phillips 66 Summer Nationals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that conclude Sunday.

State Sen. Sheila Kiscaden, who now that she's an Independent Party member claims to be camping at the overused "sensible center" political locale, told the Post-Bulletin two years ago that she didn't think Xcel Energy Center helped revitalize downtown St. Paul.

The Hiawatha Summer Slam 12-team baseball tournament, which runs August 23-25, has participants from six states, including Rhode Island, Missouri and Nebraska.

Troy Young's local sports notes run every Thursday and Saturday in the Post-Bulletin. He can be reached at

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