Millbrook used a three-run third inning and then relied on the performance pitching of Alex Royalty for a 4-2 win over host Leesville Road in the NCHSAA 4A baseball quarterfinals Friday night.
Millbrook (18-9) made sure their previous two games against Leesville Road wouldn’t end in the same lop-sided affair.
“This game did not resemble the first or second time we played those guys,” Millbrook coach Austin James said.
Leesville won the first two meetings on a combined score of 25-1.
“We’re a lot different team. We’re a confident team and we don’t get rattled even when the situation gets a little shaky,” James said.
The shaky situation presented itself in the bottom of the fifth inning for Millbrook. Leesville trailed 4-2, but loaded the bases on an error and two walks and only one out. Royalty faced the No. 2 hitter and induced a weak comebacker to the mound for a 1-2-3 inning-ending double play.
“He’s got ice water in his veins. He comes up with the biggest pitches and the biggest plays,” Adams said
The double play silenced the home crowd that had risen to its feet cheering on the Pride best opportunity.
“I’m not saying I was sitting there feeling comfortable, but I knew he gave us the best chance to get out of that jam,” Adams said.
“You can’t let the pressure get to you. I threw a fastball, then a split-finger as hard as I could. Then you just got to hope for the best,” Royalty said.
Royalty finished with a complete game victory. He struck out the last four batters to finish with 10 strikeouts total.
Royalty provided the calm on the mound for his team despite what he may be thinking underneath.
“I really think about how bad I want to destroy the batters,” Royalty said.
Millbrook struck first blood in the second inning with an RBI-single by Zach Abdou. Then in the third inning, the Wildcats put up three runs on starting pitcher Ryan Sande. Millbrook was aided by a leadoff error, a single and then back-to-back doubles to core the runs. Scott McKeon’s two-run double to right-centerfield opened the scoring.
Leesville (17-9) responded with two runs in the bottom of the third. The Pride got to Royalty with two singles to start their frame. Then an infield error and a wild pitch allowed the runs to score.
“We battled to the last pitch,” Leesville coach Guy Civitello said. The loss ended a 16-game winning streak for the Pride.
“I thought we had good at bats. We made (Royalty) throw a bunch of pitches, we just didn’t get the key hit when we needed it, but that’s just the way the game goes,” Civitello added.