Royalton didn’t play like a team simply happy to be at state.
But after a perfect run through the Section 5A tournament saw the Royals repeatedly find a way to pull out close games, a few missed opportunities, and missed calls, led to a 6-3 defeat to third-seeded Chatfield at Chaska Athletic Park in Thursday’s Class A state quarterfinals.
One of those chances came right away in the top of the first inning.
Sophomore Michael Petron lashed a leadoff single to left, then junior Brady Moulzolf sent a blast to deep left field.
The drive smacked midway up the wall, just missing a two-run homer, but giving the Royals runners at second and third with no outs.
Royalton couldn’t cash in though, then Chatfield pushed across a couple of runs in the bottom of the first.
Royalton left a pair aboard again in the second inning, but was able to break through in the third when Moulzolf hit a leadoff single, stole second and then scored when freshman Nathan Psyck tucked a liner in between the Chatfield third baseman and the line.
The score held at 2-1 until the bottom of the fourth, when Chatfield capitalized on a leadoff two-base error by squeezing a run across on a delayed steal of home with runners at the corners and two outs.
It looked as if Royalton would at least get that run back, if not tie the score, in the top of the fifth.
Moulzolf was hit by a pitch to open the frame, then senior Cade Stang reached on a hard chopper misplayed by the Chatfield shortstop.
That brought up Psyck, and a play that helped swing the game.
As the Chatfield third baseman threw to first, Moulzolf never slowed down, breaking for home.
The first baseman caught the throw to first to retire Psyck, then threw to the plate.
Moulzolf appeared to slide into the plate safely, with the Chatfield catcher slapping on a high tag.
The umpire ruled differently, calling out the runner at the plate, suddenly turning what would have been a 3-2 score with the tying run at third base and only one out to a spot where Royalton still trailed by two, as it would when the inning ended.
Chatfield would follow by adding three runs onto its lead in the bottom of the inning, opening up a 6-1 advantage.
That would prove key, as the Royals staged another threat in the top of the sixth.
Sophomore Parker Brezinka and freshman Ryan Fussy drew walks, putting two on with one out for sophomore Jason Fussy.
He would also be set down on a controversial call, though, resulting in the second out of the inning.
Petron followed up with a two-run single to left to make it 6-3, then Moulzolf drilled a base hit to center to bring the tying run to the plate.
Stang lifted a fly ball to the gap in left-center, but the Chatfield center field made a staggering grab to retire the side and end Royalton’s final threat, as the Royals were retired in order in the seventh.
Royalton now drops into the consolation bracket and will take on the loser between second-seeded New York Mills and Ely at Jordan’s Mini Met Stadium, Friday at 12:30 p.m.
With a win, Royalton would play in the consolation championship game to follow at 3 p.m.