Guelph Royals clouted by London to start season

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – Ouch.

The Guelph Royals opened their Intercounty Baseball League season by suffering a 16-0 loss to the London Majors Saturday afternoon at Hastings Stadium.

After having two games postponed last weekend, the Royals were just glad to be on the field Saturday.

“We got to play baseball today,” Royals manager Steve Scagnetti said. “That’s the thing. Some guys threw well, some guys didn’t. Some guys hit well and some guys didn’t. That’s their fourth game and this is our fourth practice, really, when you think about it. I told the guys ‘Don’t worry about the score. There were two bad innings and that’s just from being rusty and not being on the field for a while doing live game situations.’”

The Royals struggled in most facets of the game as five pitchers combined to issue 10 walks, the batters managed a single hit and a total of three base runners during the game and the fielders committed four errors that led to eight unearned runs.

The Majors, last year’s first-place finishers who were playing their fourth game of the season, had 10 hits and two big innings as they scored five runs in each of the second and seventh innings.

“Last year we were practicing as a full team for quite a while before the season started,” Scagnetti said. “We had guys with reps, guys used to turning double plays with one another and hitting cutoffs and that. That’s something that we’re just starting on right now and those things have got to come over time. This is really our fourth time together as a team doing group things and actually playing live baseball.”

The Royals are hoping a little face time with one another will make things better on the field. They had 10 players on the opening-day roster of 22 who spent varying lengths of time with the club last season.

“We had two brand new guys show up today,” Scagnetti said. “It’s a work in process. We look at May as spring training and nobody gets excited if the Blue Jays lose a few games in spring training so we’re not going to get excited if we lose a few in May.”

Of the 10 who are back who saw time with the Royals last season, three had more than 50 at bats and four pitched more than 20 innings.

“We need to work on set plays and coverages and learning how far our outfielders can throw to set up cutoffs properly,” Scagnetti said. “Depending on how good a guy’s arm is, you set up differently. Who’s got wheels to cover what and communicating on bunt plays and double plays. You’ve got to know the guy beside you his range so do I go after that ball or know that he can get it. It’s a whole bunch of things that take time.”

Daniel Marquez started and took the loss for the Royals as he gave up seven runs, all earned, off five hits and six walks in 2 1/3 innings. He threw 69 pitches, 30 for strikes.

Adrian Yuen gave up three runs, one earned, off two hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings before Ben Reid’s appearance was a three-up, three-down sixth inning. Those three were all with the Royals last season.

Guelph’s other two pitchers made their debuts with the club. Tyler Vavra surrendered six runs, all unearned, off three hits and two walks in two innings of work while Matt Vucovich pitched a three-up, three-down ninth.

Guelph pitchers struck five batters with pitches and also unleashed two wild pitches. Of the 194 pitches they threw, 98 were for strikes. By comparison, London’s three pitchers combined to throw 109 pitches and 77 were for strikes.

Murilo Gouvea picked up the win for London as he held the Royals to a second-inning single by Jeff MacLeod. Gouvea had 10 strikeouts and faced one batter over the minimum in his seven-inning outing, his first appearance of the season.

Todd Leavitt had a three-up, three-down eighth for the Majors while LeJon Baker walked two of the five batters he faced in the ninth.

Baker led London offensively as he hit three singles, drove in two runs and stole two bases. Brett Sabourin drove in three runs with a triple and a single while Byron Reichstein hit a double, the only other extra-base hit in the game.

Next up for the Royals is their usual Victoria Day clash with the Kitchener Panthers (1-1). Game time at Hastings Stadium is 2 p.m.