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Babe Ruth Panthers see second win of season

By Sue Sitter - | Jun 26, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT Runner Aiden Seaver crosses the plate in a June 15 game against the Harvey Eagles.

Baseball fundamentals made all the difference for the Rugby Babe Ruth Panthers June 15 in their game against the Harvey Eagles at Rugby’s Northern Lights Field.

“The big thing is you throw strikes and make plays,” said Coach Travis Risovi. “You just make contact with the ball and make the other team make plays.”

Risovi, who coaches Rugby High School’s Panthers during their regular baseball season, smiled often as he coached the younger players in their second game of the season. The Panthers already had one win in their record against Rolla, and they would face tough competition against North Star in Cando June 16. “It’s okay,” he would say when a Panther dropped a ball. “Good swing,” he’d say to a batter missing a pitch.

Risovi’s encouragement paid off against the Eagles. After trailing by two runs in the first inning, the Panthers found their footing to win 17-7 against Harvey.

Shortstop Tatum Risovi was more used to the coach’s encouraging style than most players. Tatum is Travis Risovi’s son.

“We pitch a lot and hit a lot, my boys and girls,” Coach Risovi said of his children. “They play a lot of baseball.”

Macen Heisler started on the pitcher’s mound against the Eagles.

A succession of Rugby errors put Eagles batter Ty Jenner on first, then third base. After Heisler struck batter Kolby Mack out, Jenner crossed home plate on a sacrifice RBI by Teagan Tipton. Another RBI followed and the Eagles ended their time at bat with a two run lead.

Two home steals on Eagles errors by Rugby’s Risovi and Ryland Hildebrand tied the score at the end of the first inning.

Rugby errors brought Harvey’s Gavin Schue home. Another error gave Tipton an RBI single.

Harvey errors followed, loading the bases for the Panthers, but Rugby couldn’t capitalize on the situation – yet.

Harvey would increase their lead to 5-2 at their next time at bat. Heisler changed positions with Risovi, who kept the Eagles at bay.

The Panthers’ momentum changed when Austin Schneibel landed a double just shy of the left field wall. Schneibel took third base on a wild Harvey pitch to Nash Wollenzien, who batted Schneibel in.

Risovi put three Harvey batters away in quick succession in the fourth inning. Jon Lashman led things off for the Panthers with a base hit, then a run to second on a wild pitch. Batter Aiden Seaver took first base after being hit by a pitch. A pitching change by Harvey followed, but the Panthers’ offensive continued. Risovi brought two Panthers home with an RBI double. Hildebrand followed, batting Risovi home. Heisler advanced Hildebrand to second and two pitches later, Hildebrand crossed home plate on an error. After Schneibel walked to first base, he crossed home plate later on more Harvey errors. A line drive single from Alex Berndt and a base hit grounder from Lashman followed, bringing in another run. The Panthers ended the fourth inning with a 9-5 lead.

Harvey managed another run from an RBI double by Ethan Eckart in the fifth inning, but the Panthers infield put batters away quickly.

Rugby’s Cole Anderson took first base on a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Hildenbrand singled with a line drive to left field. After the Eagles intentionally walked Schneibel, Anderson ran home on another wild pitch. The Panthers increased their lead to 10-6.

The Eagles capitalized on Rugby errors in the sixth inning to put runners on first and second base before Nixon Buchmiller batted Harvey’s seventh and final run for the game.

The Panthers opened their lead to 11-7 after a double by Berndt led to an RBI by Lashman. A base hit by Seavers put two on base before a series of throwing errors brought him and Lashman home.

Despite another Harvey pitching change, Risovi crossed home plate next on more errors. Loaded bases led to a walk across home plate. Heisler landed a base hit to a gap in center field, later coming home on a wild throw. Schneibel walked again before Berndt batted him home.

The 17-7 score triggered the 10-point rule, ending the game with a second Panthers win.

Risovi said he was glad to see Tatum finish the game for the Panthers, but he kept Babe Ruth pitching limits in mind when he put his son in.

“Babe Ruth has a rule where you can only pitch seven innings from Sunday through Sunday,” Risovi noted. “Instead of going by the number of pitches, they go by the number of innings. If you throw one pitch in an inning, it counts as a full inning.”

“We started him pitching the other night,” Risovi said of Tatum. “He was pitching really, really well against Rolla and playing second base. Tonight we had him doing relief for Macen just to see where he was and I think he felt pretty good and he pitched well.”

Risovi said he was helping several Panthers develop their pitching skills.

“So far this year, we’ve had Nash and Jackson Rose who pitched already, and Macen Heisler, so this summer, we’re going to give lots of guys chances,” Risovi said.

The Panthers would travel to Cando to play North Star later in the week before facing Bottineau June 23.

“North Star and Bottineau are the favorites. They basically have kids from their high school team because they’re all in that freshman age,” Risovi said.

However, Risovi said he expected the young Panthers to hold their own against the tougher teams.

“Austin Schneibel ‘s going to pitch tomorrow, and he’s about as old as the kids in Babe Ruth get, so it should be good,” Risovi said of the North Star game.

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