LAND O’LAKES — River Ridge has had issues closing games, but the Royal Knights put those behind them Friday against the best team they have faced.
Previously undefeated Land O’Lakes suffered its first loss at the hands of the Royal Knights 4-1.
River Ridge starter Tommy Peterson knew his team struggled to hold late leads against Pasco and Central, both losses. His job was to hold the lead — if given the opportunity.
“The two games we’ve lost this season were lost in the seventh inning,” Peterson said. “I felt like if I had enough gas left in the tank, I wanted to be in there.”
The Royal Knights (2-2) did not hesitate jumping out on top in this game, manufacturing a quick run in the first inning when leadoff hitter Mike Unger walked and was sacrificed to second by A.J. Alessi. Peterson then bunted Unger to third. Cam Hokanson knocked Unger in with a single.
“I feel like we are very solid defensively and in our pitching,” River Ridge coach Jack Homko said. “We were fortunate to get the hitting to go along with it tonight as well.”
From there, it was all Peterson. Pitching a complete game with eight strikeouts, he dominated the predominantly right-handed Gator lineup. He jammed those batters with inside fastballs and went away from the two left-handed hitters with breaking pitches.
Each team went deep in the game thanks to a freshman. River Ridge pushed its lead to 3-0 behind a two-run shot from Jason Heinrich in the second inning. The home run, the first of Heinrich’s career, was past the scoreboard in right-centerfield.
Land O’Lakes (3-1) had its own highlight by Alex Reynolds. The rightfielder accounted for the Gators’ only run when he hit his first career homer in the second inning off the top of the wall.