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Baseball: Pitchers step up in Royals' first week

Starting pitchers Jack Horman (left) and Max Meyer (right) both allowed zero hits during their starts last week against Tartan and North. (Bulletin photo by Blaze Fugina)

The Woodbury baseball team did not spend much time in the field during a 2-0 start to the season.

Led by two starting pitchers, the Royals allowed only one hit in two games last week. Starting pitchers Max Meyer and Jack Horman each allowed zero hits, with Horman throwing a five-inning no-hitter in just his second career varsity start as a junior on Thursday at Royal Baseball Stadium.

It did not look like Horman was going to have a stellar day on the mound when he hit a batter with his first pitch of the game. But he soon recovered.

"Other than that, I focused and bore down," Horman said during practice on Friday. "Everything was good. Everything was aiming low. If I missed high, it wasn't really in the strike zone."

He ended up with five strikeouts and two walks in five innings pitched in a 10-0 win for Woodbury against North. Not only did Brodie Paulson go 2-for-3 at the plate with one home run, three RBIs and two runs scored, but he also made a diving play in the first inning that ended up being a key play in the no-hitter.

Horman said his teammates were there to congratulate him when the game was over.

"They all teased me about it," he said. "It's five innings, but they let me know that I pitched well. Everyone treats each other fairly here. Everything is well rounded. We are a family here, so if a guy makes a good play everyone is up and cheering for him."

Meyer pitched 5 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball in a 3-0 win against Tartan on Wednesday, April 5 at the University of Northwestern. While he did not have the most efficient game of his life, he struck out 10 batters with two walks and a few hit batters. Meyer admitted it was the first game of the year, so he did not expect to have his best stuff.

"At first I didn't get on top of my fastball a lot," Meyer said. "But my slider was working really good. I can always count on that pitch to throw a strike every time, so I just pounded a lot of sliders."

Meyer said he is pretty much throwing a similar game as last season, but he has added a sinker to the list of pitches he can use to keep hitters off balance.

"I just incorporated a sinker in the Legion season, but I didn't throw that a lot last game," Meyer said on Friday. "I threw it like five or six times. But I'm going to incorporate that a little more."

Tartan eventually picked up a hit in the later innings after Meyer left the game due to reaching the pitch limit he and his coaches had set. Nolan Glunz led the Royals by going 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs, and Karl Scheit was 3-for-3 at the plate.

Head coach Kevin McDermott was happy with what he saw from the Woodbury pitching staff last week. The offense might not have been at 100 percent in the first week of the schedule, but it did not matter with stellar pitching and defense.

"I think that gives our guys a lot of confidence," McDermott said. "Defensively, we played good baseball, and we pitched it well. I don't think we've hit our peak or hit our stride necessarily offensively yet, but we're finding ways. When you have good defense and good pitching, you don't have to have your full throttle offense right off the bat."