Rochester's boys of summer are back.
The Rochester Royals had their amateur baseball season delayed by more than a month due to COVID-19. With amateur baseball given the state's approval to begin play, the Royals took the field for the first time this season Thursday and opened with a 12-2 victory over the Austin Greyhounds in eight innings at Mayo Field.
"It felt good to be back for the first game, it's been awhile, we've been waiting for it and everyone's been excited to get back out there," Royals first baseman Sam Warren said. "It was a good time, it was a blast and everyone had a good time tonight."
"It's great to be back," Royals shortstop Alex Holets added. "We haven't see live pitching in a while, it's great to see it. A good team in Austin and it was fun to see some fastballs."
Warren led the Royals by going 3-for-5 with a double, home run and two RBIs. He hit an RBI double in the first and a two-run homer in the third in his first two at-bats of the season.
"I was just trying to barrel up the ball and get my timing right," Warren said. "It's been awhile, just trying to get back in the swing of things."
It might have been the first game for the Royals, but the team looked solid. The offense scored a dozen runs on a dozen hits while four pitchers limited Austin to four hits.
"First game, and first game for the college kids even," Royals player/manager Tim Oesterlin said. "The young guys haven't played in months. So it was good to get live at-bats. We haven't had any of those, just been in the (batting) cages."
Holets hit a two-run single, while Nick Pearson came off the bench to go 2-for-3 with a two-run double. Hayden Brown collected three hits and scored three runs.
Warren was among Rochester's four starters still playing college ball. Mac Horvath and Derek Lilledahl, who got the win with three innings of relief, just graduated in 2020.
"We looked good," Warren said. "We had a lot of young guys who were showing up and making big plays, swinging the bat well. We had Mac (Horvath) swinging the bat well and it was a good night for everyone."
Horvath, who is bound to play college ball at North Carolina, drilled a solo home run in the eighth inning.
"We turned them loose out there," Oesterlin said. "Sam had a great day and Mac hit a bomb. We ran a little on the bases and the pitchers did a good job, too."
"Having a lot of young kids was nice," Holets said. "They come off a college season, maybe, and they've seen pitching more recently than someone's who working a job."
Moving forward in the shortened season, the Royals will play 17 more games between Saturday's home against Stewartville-Racine and July 31.
"We have like three or four games every week, not a lot of time off," Holets said. "In a short season, that's nice sometimes. As a position player, I enjoy it."
"A little bit of consistency is probably going to be the biggest thing in a short season," Oesterlin said.
Despite the pandemic, Thursday's game seemed like any other normal game. About 75 fans were on hand and a smattering were wearing masks.
"No. 1, we want to stay healthy, both physically and obviously the covid stuff," Oesterlin said. "We want to try and keep everyone safe and healthy and get guys in a rhythm and get guys committed here on a regular basis."
Royals 12, Greyhounds 2
Austin: Riley Retterath 2-for-3; Jack Dankert 1-for-4, 1 RBI; Jose Bothun 1-for-3. Pitchers: Alexis Laureno (LP) 5 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 3 K; Jack Dankert 2 2/3 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.
Rochester: Alex Holets 1-2, 2 R, 2 RBI; Mac Horvath 1-for-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI; Sam Warren 3-for-5, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI; Alex Prindle 1-for-3; Hayden Brown 3-for-5, 3 R, 1 RBI; Drew Block 1-for-2, 1 R; Nick Pearson 2-for-3, 1 2B, 1 R, 2 RBI. Pitchers: Mike Stubbs 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K; Derek Lilledahl (WP) 3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K; Mitch Brown 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; Erik Thorvilson 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K.