LRSC set to host Mon-Dak baseball tournament

Sam Herder
Lake Region State College head baseball coach Kyal Williams and the Royals are hosting the Mon-Dak Tournament this weekend at Roosevelt Park's Legion Field.

By Sam Herder

Journal Sports Editor

A different postseason format has brought back the Mon-Dak baseball tournament, and Lake Region State College is the host team this weekend at Roosevelt Park’s Legion Field.

The five-team, double-elimination tournament begins at 10 a.m. Friday and goes through Sunday for the championship game.

“It’s an honor for us to host it and it’s good for the community bringing in five teams,” LRSC athletic director Danny Mertens said. “We have the facilities and the Park Board has done a great job in getting the facilities ready. I like bringing people here and it’s good for the community. The businesses that help us out, we can help them out.”

The hometown team begins the tournament Friday morning as the fourth-seeded Royals take on No. 5 Dakota College at Bottineau.

The winner faces No. 1 Williston State College at 3 p.m. Friday and the loser plays at 5:30 p.m. Friday against the loser of No. 2 Dawson Community College and No. 3 Bismarck State College.

“It’s a double-edged sword for us,” LRSC head coach Kyal Williams said. “It gives us more opportunities to play, but it also gives us more opportunities to lose. After the last few games we’ve played, there’s nothing much better you can ask for coming into a tournament. The guys are ready to go.”

Williams is alluding to knocking off WSC in the last game of the regular season.

Landen Hall hit a walk-off solo home run to defeat the conference’s top team in the eighth inning.

“Even looking back on the game, our bottom order won us that game,” Williams said. “If we can get the top order going at the same time, it will be deadly. Winning off a walk-off, you can tell the guys are confident.”

The win shows the balance in the conference. Seedings in this weekend’s tournament probably don’t matter as much as they did in the past.

The Royals and WSC split four games this season. LRSC and DCB also split the four games played.

“It’s a year that anything can happen,” Williams said. “Usually there’s a team that sweeps everyone. Everyone has been splitting, so it will be a very good tournament.”

The top two teams, or whoever plays in the title game Sunday, advance to the regional tournament. Whoever wins the Mon-Dak Tournament will host the regional.

The Royals are hoping their home-field advantage leads to more home games.

“It’s always nice being on your home field,” Williams said. “You don’t have to travel and stay in hotels.”

A change for all teams will be playing nine innings in the tournament, compared to the seven innings played during the regular season.

“That’s going to be the one thing that plays into a lot of team’s hands is how they cope with that extra two innings,” Williams said. “It doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up.”

LRSC hasn’t seen their first round opponent since April 13 when they played DCB four times in two games.

LRSC won 13-3 and lost 4-3 at home on April 12. Then in Bottineau the next day, the Royals won 9-6 before losing 13-12.

“We feel confident against them, we’ve scored a lot of runs and they’ve scored a lot of runs,” Williams said. “I feel our pitchers are ready to go. We have a good plan going in and hopefully it works.”

Cost for the tournament is $10 for adults and $7 for students. Mertens said he expects a good crowd to go along with good baseball and good weather.

And as far as the Royals playing the early game Friday, Williams said his team will be ready to go.

“It is a little different, but we did a few 10 a.m. games down in Arkansas and played really well,” Williams said. “We can wake up and be ready to go instead of waiting around to hit the field. A lot of our guys are early risers. Hopefully we can come out and get a good win and move that momentum into the rest of the weekend.”