Royals Ride Pitching To Win
By David Breidenbach, Correspondent
Mar 26, 2014, 12:59
David Breidenbach/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
PRINCE GEORGE—With Mark King on the hill, Royals baseball coach Mickey Roberts was hoping to get a good five inning outing and then rely on his bull pen to close out the game against Conference 25 opponent Clover Hill Monday.
In the third inning it looked like King might not even make it to five, as he struggled a bit and allowed two runs. But King buckled down after that and seemed to pick up tempo, completing the game for a 5-4 win.
“I just couldn’t get my stuff in the zone; Brody (Rotzoll) made a good throw to get me out of the inning. As long as I can throw strikes, I know my defense will pick it up for me,” King said.
The Royals had a royal opportunity to take the lead in the first inning, loading the bases with the first three batters. But a come-backer to the mound turned into a home-to-first double play, and a grounder to third ended the threat.
The top of the third started off with a homer by Stephen Baughan, the Clover Hill pitcher. He rocked King’s 1-0 offering and sent it over the left center field fence. The next batter, Kyle Ryan, took a 2-1 pitch up the middle for a single and later scored the second run on Jacob Fontana’s RBI single. Rotzoll’s throw down to second base for an out ended the inning.
Prince George took the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning. Bryce Harrup singled to open the inning, moved to second on Jordan Nase’s sacrifice bunt, and scored on Preston Stringer’s single. Stringer later scored on a passed ball. On that play, Montae Bradshaw made the turn at third and raced home when the ball caromed off the dugout fence for a 3-2 Royals lead.
Chris King scored in the for Clover Hill to tie things up at 3-3. But Nase and King both scored in the fifth inning to make the score 5-3, Royals.
In the meantime, King was handling things on the mound. He faced four batters in the fifth inning, and got three straight ground outs in the sixth. Roberts thought about making the change earlier, but King’s fifth and sixth innings earned the pitcher a shot at finishing the game.
“Tremendous effort by Mark King. It looks like he got sharper as the game went on. His pitch count was up and I was looking to take him out after the fifth inning, but he had a short fifth inning and an even shorter sixth. He said he wanted to finish the game and I let him go back out,” Roberts said.
That strategy nearly cost the Royals. Baughan, who had already had an RBI double and a homer against King, was the first batter. But King induced a soft liner to second for the first out, and the spectators had an audible sigh of relief in the stands. But Kyle Ryan, the next batter, singled and Andrew Duesing hit a slow dribbler to short for an infield hit. After a fly ball to left gave the Royals two outs, Brian Maloney hit a sharp liner to left to load the bases. Fontana worked King to a full count before earning a walk and an RBI.
With the game down to one run and the bases loaded, it seemed like a good time to rethink leaving King on the hill. But Roberts had no intention of taking him out then. King got the final batter to hit a grounder to short, and Nase looked for the easy play at second, but no one was covering the bag. He quickly spun and made the play at first for the final out.
“I wasn’t worried at all; as long as I got it in the zone I knew somebody would make a play for me,” King said.
Clover Hill 002 100 1 – 4 4 2
Prince George 003 020 0 – 5 5 2
Baughan, Mayes (5) and King. King and Rotzoll. W — King. L — Baughan.
Highlights: (CH) Stephen Baughan 2 for 3, HR, 2 RBIs; Jacob Fontana 1 for 3, 2 RBIs; (PG) Mark King 2 for 3, RBI; Preston Stringer 1 for 3, RBI; Jordan Nase 1 for 1, run.
Records: Prince George 1-1; Clover Hill 0-1