BILLINGS — The Billings Scarlets and Billings Royals didn’t want Sunday off — both would have rather been in the Goldsmith Gallery tournament championship — but it means they’ll be fully rested for Round 3 of this year’s rivalry Monday night.
The teams have split the first two meetings of the year, but this will be the true test of how each is playing with just a month before state. Both seem confident at this point, thanks to experienced squads.
“With all these seniors on the team, we can help and show the younger guys what to do and what they should get out of this,” said Scarlets outfielder and pitcher Michael Zaske. “Day 1, they were slackers — they didn’t want to do anything, didn’t want to do what they were told — but they’re starting to get better.”
“Having that type of leadership is huge, because they can run and take care of the team and be an extension of our coaching staff,” Scarlets manager Adam Hust added. “Hopefully that veteran leadership proves very important down the line when things get tough.”
The Royals are the defending Class AA state champions, so their veterans have plenty to pass on.
“We had a really good team, obviously, last year, and we kept quite a few good seniors,” said outfielder Michael Moreland. “We’re just hoping to be able to put together for the younger guys, because we were the younger guys last year.”
“We’ve still got six guys from that team, so they definitely carry that energy over to this year,” Royals manager Bryan Benjamin said. “And it’s kind of trickled down to the other guys that came up from the Blue Jays this year, so a real good, solid team. A lot of emotional guys that get out there and really care about the game.”
First pitch Monday is set for 7 p.m. at Dehler Park.