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Rochester Royals believe 2022 season can be state-championship special

The Rochester Royals amateur baseball team have their sights set on a possible Class B state title this summer.

Royals vs. Muskies
Matt Meyer of the Rochester Royals delivers a pitch earlier this season. Meyer said he believes the Royals have the talent to contend for a Class B amateur baseball state title this summer.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin file photo
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ROCHESTER — The Rochester Royals have been highly competitive in Class B amateur baseball for years. But this year could be special.

The Royals last won a state title in 2006 and in recent years they have been building toward making another championship run. The players believe this could be the year.

“We want to make a run,” Matt Meyer said. “I’m getting to the point where I don’t know how many years I have left.”

The Royals' 2021 season ended in disappointment at the Class B state tournament in the second round. They outhit Chanhassen 10-4 but suffered a 2-1 loss. Chanhassen went on to win the state title for the fourth straight season.

“We want that opportunity to be playing in the final weekend,” Meyer said. “And everybody’s goal on this team is to end it on a win, to win a state championship.”

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Meyer, a former minor-league pitcher who reached Triple-A, is a 37-year-old left-hander who is the staff ace. He is 4-0 with a save and a 0.97 ERA, but he has had plenty of help on the mound this season. The Royals also feature a strong mix of veterans and young standouts in their everyday lineup.

“Just the quality of player these younger guys are is just tremendous,” Royals infielder/outfielder Nick Pearson said. “And they’re willing to be here and if you give them a little tidbit or a hint of how to play in this league, they’ll listen, they’ll take it and roll with it.”

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Pearson, a 2013 Century grad, is one of the veteran players who has the team off to a strong start in 2022. The Royals are a stellar 18-3, including 5-1 in Section 1B play.

“The cohesiveness we have with this group of guys, we’ve worked on it the last couple of years to be in the mix at the end of the year,” said Pearson, who is hitting .406 with two homers and 14 RBIs.

Michael Michalak (.345, two homers, 12 RBIs), Alex Holets (.314, one homer, 13 RBIs), Drew Block (.386, 16 RBIs) and Jake Halverson (.300, five RBIs) join Pearson as some of the core veteran position players. There are also a bevy of current college-age players who have helped the Royals become a serious state contender including Logan Milene (.313, two homers, 11 RBIs), Sam Warren (.306, one homers, 11 RBIs), Tate Meiners (.452, one homer, seven RBIs) and Adam Marshall.

Royals vs. Muskies
Nick Pearson of the Rochester Royals scores a run during a recent game against the New Market Muskies. Pearson is batting over .400 this season and has helped the Royals get off to an 18-3 start.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin file photo

“We’re a pretty good team, especially with our offense,” Milene said. “We’re pretty loaded offensively so we believe we can hit any pitcher in the state really. And then obviously when you have a guy like Matt Meyer and play defense behind him, that’s a pretty good recipe for winning.”

Meyer said it is valuable to have a mix of veteran and young players. While the veterans can provide experience and guidance, the younger players bring a lot of energy.

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“It’s a good core of guys who are showing up day in and day out,” Meyer said. “It’s huge having depth and it’s huge having guys off the bench who are ready to come in. We have the veterans and the young guys who have come in and are filling in holes.”

The Royals have also added both the Class A and Class AA high school Player of the Year in Lourdes grad Joe Sperry and Easton Fritcher of Hayfield. Both will play college ball starting this fall, Fritcher at the University of Minnesota.

“There’s a learning curve, but both of those guys are good learners,” Meyer said.

Recent newcomers Bo McClintock, Matt Cano and pitcher Matteo Finocchi are other veteran players who have helped the Royals.

“If you aren’t playing and you’re a bench player, you’re still focused and locked in and it’s good to see that,” Pearson said. “I think anyone on our roster can step up and do the job.”

And while Meyer is expected to pitch in the big games, the Royals have some other quality arms. The left-handed Finocchi is 5-0 with a 1.45 ERA while Brevin Goetz (2-1, 4.50 ERA), Alex Rudquist (1-1, 2.18 ERA) and Palmer Mickelson (2-0, 2.00 ERA) are current college pitchers.

“The pitching staff is a good group,” Meyer said. “We have Matteo, who’s doing awesome, Rudquist is great, Brevin (Goetz) is locking it in and he has some great stuff.”

A concern for the Royals will be if/when their college players have to leave for school and if they will be able to return for the state tournament, which runs for three weekends beginning in August.

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“Obviously we have to play well and make it there, but to get that opportunity to get there and have the young guys be able to stick around is hugely important for a good run,” Meyer said.

Related Topics: ROCHESTERBASEBALL
Guy N. Limbeck is a Rochester native who has been working at a daily newspaper since 1981. He has worked at the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Guy at 507-285-7724 or glimbeck@postbulletin.com.
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