Give Beau Thomas the chance to swing the bat and he can deliver. He’s proven it so far this season, albeit in a limited number of plate appearances.
Thomas specializes in pitching, and the left-hander cruised through a four-hit shutout Monday in the Royals’ 8-0 win over Jackson, Wyo., at the Goldsmith Gallery Jewelers/Make-A-Wish Foundation tournament at Dehler Park.
The victory sent the Royals, now 20-9 overall, into the semifinal round, where they’ll face Idaho Falls, Idaho, on Tuesday at 11 a.m. The Scarlets (20-6-1) stayed alive with a 5-4, nine-inning victory over Dickinson, N.D., late Monday night. They’ll face Gillette, Wyo., in Tuesday’s semis at 2.
It was Thomas’ two-out RBI single that opened the floodgates to a five-run fourth inning and allowed the Royals to put Jackson away early. The game was called due to the tournament’s five-inning, eight-run mercy rule.
“I want more at-bats, that’s for sure,” said Thomas, the Royals’ No. 9 batter on Monday. “I don’t get that many chances to get up there. My coach gave me a chance to hit the ball today. I felt like I did a pretty good job with two outs and a person on third base and hitting him in.”
Thomas, who is now 4 for 7 at the plate this season, hit the ball hard up the middle to score Pete Lind from third base to start the rally in the fourth. Matt Dillon also ripped an RBI single and Konner Wiechman brought two in with a triple to right that added to the surge.
On the mound, Thomas struck out two and walked one while scattering four hits. He coaxed the Giants into two double plays, and probably should have had a third.
“Beau’s a competitor,” Royals coach Matt Kimmet said. “He’s a football guy, and I love guys that play football. They’re tough. He got a lot of ground balls today. Several double play balls. Exactly what we need.”
Kimmet said his team’s two-out rally signified its recognition of an area where it needs to improve going forward.
“We’re kind of at a point where we’ve established some midseason goals,” Kimmet said. “One thing is to find a way to bring in runners in scoring position no matter how many outs you’ve got.”
The Scarlets found a way to beat Dickinson and simply stay alive in the tournament -- thanks to some gutsy relief pitching by David Follett and a game-ending miscue.
The teams were tied 4-4 going into the seventh, but nobody could push a run across until the ninth. Follett, who relieved starter Gordy Sveinson to begin the seventh, gave up three walks in three innings but didn’t allow a hit. He wiggled out of a first-and-second situation in the ninth to keep the Roughriders off the board.
“I stuck to my mechanics and guys made good plays behind me,” said Follett, who had ice on his elbow afterward.
The Scarlets, meanwhile, stranded several runners in their last few times on offense. They squandered a bases-loaded situation in the sixth with a botched squeeze play, and couldn’t bring Lucas Funyak in from third with only one out in the eighth.
But the ninth was different. Collin Maier drew a one-out walk, advanced to third after Elijah Sommerville’s bloop single to right, and scored when A.J. Smith’s line drive with the bases loaded deflected off the second baseman’s glove and into the outfield.
What should have been an inning-ending double-play lineout turned out be the final play of a game that lasted a little longer than three hours.
“We were pushing on the door those last three innings, and we were eventually going to get it done,” Follett said. “Thankfully we didn’t have to go back out there (for the 10th).”
The Scarlets were again without pitcher/outfielder Gage Hinsz, who is currently away from the team for personal reasons. Hinsz was drafted by the Pirates in the 11th round of the MLB draft on June 7. Hinsz’s family said Monday he is still in negotiations with the Pirates and has not come to any contractual agreements.
The winners of the Royals/Idaho Falls and Scarlets/Gillette games will meet at 5 p.m. for the tournament championship game Tuesday at 5 p.m.