The game was long over but Gordon Sveinson still had some work to do.
As his teammates packed up their gear in the dugout, Svienson was out running back and forth in right field.
“Conditioning,” explained the Billings Scarlets pitcher of the post-game routine, sweat dripping down his face.
Sveinson was plenty strong earlier, throwing seven shutout innings to help the Scarlets defeat the Billings Royals 9-1 Thursday night at Dehler Park.
The victory stopped a four-game conference losing streak for the Scarlets (21-12-1, 7-6). The Royals are 21-11 overall and 4-5 in league play.
Both teams play in the Bozeman Tournament starting on Friday. The Royals play Great Falls at 10 a.m. in Bozeman, while a glitch in the schedule has the Scarlets playing a team from Nebraska at Dehler Park at 2 p.m.
Sveinson limited the Royals to three hits, all singles, while striking out six and walking just one.
“Gordon pitched a helluva game,” said Scarlet third baseman Jayson Leinwand. “He put us on his back and carried us. He came in and threw, that’s what he does well.”
Leinwand provided the big bat, cranking a three-run home run to left field in the third inning. The previous inning, he banged out a triple and scored on Jake McGovern’s RBI single.
“I was just looking for some good pitches and I was able to find one that I wanted,” Leinwand said of the two at-bats. “It was a fastball on the triple. After that, I wasn’t expecting any more fastballs.”
He crushed a curveball down the left-field line the next time up. “About halfway down the basepath,” Leinwand said when he knew it left the park. “You know. You can feel it off the bat.”
That was more than enough for Sveinson, who kept the Royals in check with his fastball, curveball and changeup.
“The changeup worked really well. I used it to attack,” he said. “I was able to throw strikes and let the defense work. The defense did a great job. They made lot of nice plays.
“This can be a momentum-builder for us.”
Of Sveinson’s 107 pitches 70 were for strikes.
“That’s three pitches for strikes,” said Scarlets head coach Adam Hust. “When you do that, you keep the hitters off balance. That’s what you want from your starting pitcher.”
The Scarlets loaded the bases twice in the first inning but came away empty. The Royals turned a 1-2-3 double play, then forced a ground out to end what could have been a big inning.
“That’s a little frustrating when that happens,” Hust said. “We tried to stay positive the whole game.”
The Scarlets added single runs in the fourth and eighth innings and put the game out of reach with three more in the ninth, the big hit an RBI double by Jalen Garcia.
“It was concentration,” said Leinwand, whose team finished with 11 hits. “It was all about timely hits.
“The win feels good. It’s a big game, big crowd, against a rival on Legion Against Cancer night. You don’t want to come out and embarrass yourself.”
Garcia finished with three hits, while McGovern and Cole Jones had two apiece. Jones, who had missed almost a week and half with a knee injury, returned to his lead-off spot in the batting order and scored three runs.
“That makes a big difference in our lineup,” said Hust.
Kevin Angland had two of the Royals four hits, including an RBI single in the eighth inning.
NOTES: The teams wore special jerseys to honor loved ones affected by cancer. The Scarlets wore lavender-colored jerseys, while the Royals wore white. “It was nice to play well and honor people who have suffered from cancer,” Sveinson said. … Along with turning a double play in the first inning, the Royals also put together a 2-6-3-4-1 pick off in the sixth. … Garcia fouled off 12 pitches during his second at-bat before being hit with a pitch on 3-and-2 count … With Matt Kimmet away at a wedding, Dana Hill served as the Royals’ interim head coach.