BILLINGS — The Billings Royals currently sit with a 29-9 record in the regular season and have a tournament title under their belt after winning the Border Battle Tournament in Mandan, North Dakota earlier this month.
When asked what’s allowed them to get off to a scorching start, the Royals were quick to credit the defensive side of the ball.
“Pitching and defense usually wins game, so we just try and be as best as we can at that," said shortstop Jaeden Jordahl. "Last year we kind of struggled a lot on defense and it didn’t really help us out that much. So not a lot of errors really helps this year.”
“Our defense is great. We always make the routine plays. We make the great plays, we make the winning plays," Royals assistant coach Cameron Maciel said. "We always harp on making the routine plays and winning plays. I think that’s what we’ve done all year.”
Maciel gives all credit to the kids on the pitching staff and says that the bullpen is the strength of the team. One of those arms, Reagan Walker, even wears a gold chain with a fuel tank on it, just to remind himself that when he’s on the bump, he throws gas.
“We’re just blessed to have these guys work hard on and off the field. After practice, before practice, they’re always doing something to keep their arms ready, ready to go, Maciel said. "Their mentality is great and they always play for the boys.”
But it’s hard to win a baseball game solely on the back of pitching and defense. You’ve got to manufacture runs somehow, and the Royals have yet to hit a home run this season. That means getting on base and being aggressive have added importance, and Jordahl is the guy that sets the table for the Royals.
“He’s the most important, by far. He does everything for us. He’ll always start the rally and we can always go behind him," said Walker.
“He makes the routine plays. He makes guys better on and off the field," Maciel said. Even when he’s on the bench and not playing, he’s probably our biggest bench guy. He always gets the team excited and everybody pumped up for the next play to happen.”
The Royals are hoping they can ride their strong pitching staff and speed on the base paths to success at the State AA tournament in Great Falls later this year.
“I think we just need to keep competing. Take it day by day, inning by inning, pitch by pitch, out by out. I think that’s our biggest thing, because once we get to the state tournament you never know who’s going to win," said Maciel. "Everybody has a chance when you get to state and it’s going to be a dogfight every single game. I think that’s the biggest thing, is we’ve got some dogs on this team and we’re going to compete each and every game.”