With several of his players getting their first full year of varsity baseball under their belts, Thomas More Prep-Marian baseball coach Aaron Breit knows his Monarchs are still going through a learning curve.
Keeping that in mind, Breit won’t be alarmed if the Monarchs endure a couple setbacks along the way, as long as the Monarchs show the ability to bounce back.
In that respect, Breit was encouraged by what he saw from his team in the nightcap of Tuesday’s doubleheader against Russell/Victoria at TMP Field.
The Monarchs saw an eight-game winning streak snapped with a 9-7 loss to the Broncos in the first game, but TMP responded in game two with an 11-1 run-rule victory in five innings.
“I told them before Easter break, we’re making the climb now,” Breit said. “We don’t want to peak too early. We don’t want to peak right now. We’re making the climb and we want to peak at the end. Every game and every day in practice, we’ve got to keep learning and build from this point forward.”
TMP (9-3) was plagued by eight errors and eight walks in the first game, but Breit said he was more concerned by the Monarchs' energy level.
“Mistakes are going to happen in baseball, but the mental mistakes and the lack of effort, that’s something we can control every pitch,” Breit said. “We can’t have that, and the results showed the first game.”
In the nightcap, TMP took advantage of a few Bronco miscues to build a 4-1 lead by the third inning before breaking it open with a six-run fourth frame, which Brady Kreutzer helped fuel with a two-run bases-loaded single. The Monarchs then tacked on a run in the fifth inning to force the rule.
“It was very good to see how they came back,” Breit said. “The first game everybody was dead and playing flat. I challenged them in between games — we have a little life in the dugout and life on the field, and good things will happen.”
TMP junior Colby Dreiling pounded the strike zone in the second game, allowing five hits and one unearned run while walking just one.
“He’s been great for us,” Breit said. “He keeps the defense on its toes, they make plays for him. They’re ready every pitch, they know he’s going to be in the zone. Defense was a lot better that second game.”
In the first game, TMP grabbed a 7-4 lead in the bottom of the fourth frame, plating three runs behind singles from Mason Robbins, Brandon Karlin, Tyson Dinkel, Jace Wentling and Carson Jacobs.
But the Bronchos scored two runs in the fifth, and after two Monarch errors, Kirk Huser’s two-run double gave Russell/Victoria the lead in the sixth. The Broncos tacked on a run in the top of the seventh and kept the Monarchs off the board in the bottom of the seventh to end it.
Breit said he was pleased with the adjustments the Monarchs made in the second game.
“We finally started putting some swings together, going gap to gap, letting the ball get deep and not trying to do as much,” he said.
TMP first-game starter Carson Jacobs went 4 2/3 innings to earn a no-decision. Robbins went the rest of the way on the mound, taking the loss.
Brendon Burhle pitched five innings in relief to earn the win for Russell/Victoria in game one. Cooper Windholz took the loss in game two but had three hits at the plate for the Broncos (6-6).
The Monarchs will play host to Salina-Sacred Heart at 4 p.m. Monday.