Alex Royalty more than lived up his name, tossing a complete game gem in leading Millbrook to a stunning 4-2 win over Green Hope in an N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A third-round baseball playoff game.
Royalty used a variety of fastballs, curves and change-ups to baffle a team that spent almost the whole season ranked No. 1 in the Triangle by The News & Observer but finished the season at 21-4 and short of its title hopes. Millbrook (17-8), advances to host the winner of Saturday’s Apex-Leesville Road contest, moved from Friday due to a rain-soaked field.
Royalty allowed just a single run in the second and sixth innings and retired the side in order in the fourth, fifth and seventh frames. He fanned five batters in all in an efficient performance in helping the Wildcats avenge a 1-0 loss to the Falcons earlier in the season.
The junior pitcher was understandably amped after his terrific performance.
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“This was the biggest game of my life and on the biggest stage and I didn’t want to let my teammates down,” Royalty said. “I wanted to take them on my shoulders and carry them today.”
The Wildcats offense did its part to support Royalty with a four-run third, keyed by Alex Richards’ two-run single in the right field gap. Royalty helped his own cause with an RBI single and Spencer Williams drew a bases-loaded walk.
Their efforts also created an early exit for Falcons starter Troy Maslowski in favor of reliever Matt Duckworth, who allowed just three base-runners the rest of the way,
Green Hope could only muster Trevor Losito’s RBI single in the second and Maslowski’s run-scoring base-knock in the sixth, however, as its comeback bid fell short.
It was a disappointing end to a superb season for coach Michael Miragliuolo’s team.
“They bled and blooped some hits together and made plays at the right time,” Miragliuolo said. “They outplayed us today and deserved to win.”
Richards, who also singled and walked in two other at-bats, said his teammates were confident they could give Green Hope a major battle and perhaps win.
“We came in confident even though we know how tough they are,” Richards said. “For me it was just a matter of getting comfortable in the batter’s box.”
Familiarity with the Falcons bred respect, according to Millbrook coach Austin James.
“We knew what we were getting into,” James said in referring to his team’s earlier loss to Green Hope. “But we scratched and clawed for those four runs and that was the difference in the game,”
It didn’t hurt that they had Royalty on their side, either.