With runners on second and third, junior second baseman Jarryd "Bubba" Good stepped into the batter's box in the third inning Tuesday in a key home game against perennial Camden Conference power Canby looking to help Russell-Tyler-Ruthton add to its 1-0 lead. He did, but it wasn't in a way anyone on his team, or even Good himself, expected.
With a 1-1 count, Good lifted a pitch from Bryce Gorder to center field, fully expecting it to be a fly-out. But the Canby center fielder kept drifting back, the ball sailed over his head and went over the fence. It was the first home run of Good's career and propelled RTR to a five-run inning.
Then in the fifth inning, again with two runners on base, it happened again. Good hit the first pitch he saw over the fence in center in another five-run inning for RTR as the Knights rolled to an 11-4 victory to remain perfect on the season at 6-0.
Good, who hits sixth in RTR's batting order, finished the game with seven RBIs. Knights second-year coach Cody Curry readily admitted that Good's offensive outburst caught him by surprise, as the junior hits more for average than for power. Good said he also wouldn't have imagined having a game like he did Tuesday.
"I don't know (what got into me). It kind of caught me off guard, too," Good said. "That first one surprised me as much as I think it surprised everyone else."
The key home runs didn't come against some run-of-the-mill team. The Lancers went unbeaten in the Camden Conference last season and have been a top-tier team in the league in recent years. To beat Canby helped validate the strong start to the season that RTR had jumped out to.
"Canby is known as a powerhouse in our conference and we were kind of the underdogs, but getting that win against them was definitely a boost to our confidence," Curry said.
"It felt pretty good," Good added. "Last year we went there and it was the exact opposite. They completely slaughtered us and we couldn't do anything. We got up to bat and no one could hit. This year it was the exact opposite."
It's been quite the turnaround for the Knights, who have already matched their 2012 win total. They're averaging 10.5 runs per game, the most in the Camden Conference, and allowing just 3.3 runs per game to their opponents, ranking third in the league.
RTR's success is starting to be recognized, as the Knights were ranked 20th in the latest Class A poll. They're battling it out at the top of the conference with Lac qui Parle Valley, which is undefeated for the season and ranked fifth in Class A.
Good said the team has gotten better in every facet of the game this season, from the pitching staff led by Shay Wabeke, to the bottom of the batting order.
"Every game we've had, everyone has been able to hit," Good said. "It hasn't just been the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 hitters that get hits. It's everyone throughout the batting order.
"Our fielding has improved, too. We've been a lot better fielding going last year to this year and we're still improving now."
Getting advice from a former college player has aided in the Knights' improvement, Good said. Curry finished his career at Southwest Minnesota State University in 2011 before taking over the RTR baseball program last season. Curry was named to the All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference second team in 2010 as a designated hitter.
The environment that has been created within the team has also helped, Good added. He said the Knights have a lot of fun during practice, but they also know when it's time to get down to business.
Curry said Good is definitely helpful at creating a laid-back and fun atmosphere. That's not a surprise coming from a kid who has been known as "Bubba" since birth when he was given the nickname by an aunt.
"It's awesome. He's always joking around and setting the mood," Curry said of Good. "He's always cracking jokes with the team and doing pranks on other players, having a good time."