Royals advance to semis with wild win over Purcellville
WINCHESTER – The long brewing rivalry between the Royals and Purcellville Cannons came out towards the end of Monday’s game at Bridgeforth Field. Three ejections were issued in the late innings. Despite all that unfolded, Winchester escaped with a slim 7-5 victory over the Cannons and clinched the semifinals.
The Royals were playing a near flawless game through six innings. Starting pitcher Ryan Kennedy had allowed just one hit and an unearned run up to that point in the game.
On the other side of the plate, Winchester supported Kennedy with five runs. After Purcellville initially took the lead with a sacrifice fly, Trent Burgreen answered in the third inning with a two-strike double down the right field line to tie the game.
A couple batters later, Ray Gil, who clubbed a three-run home run a night ago, belted a two-run home run to give Winchester the lead, 3-1.
The Royals chased Purcellville starter Cody Whitten out of the game with one out in the fourth, when Samyr Santos touched home plate off an error from Whitten. An inning later, Santos hit a rising line drive over the left field fence for a solo home run, giving Winchester a 5-1 lead.
The seventh inning is where everything unraveled for the Royals. Matthew Koehler and Tyler Baker each singled with one out, bringing the tying run to the plate in Thomas Baggett. Kennedy induced an infield fly for the second out, bringing Kenny Oyama to the plate.
Oyama worked a 3-1 count, then laced an RBI double to the right field gap, cutting the deficit to 5-2. Shaggy Freeland followed. He took the second pitch of the at-bat, Kennedy’s 113th of the game, over the right field fence for a game-tying three-run home run.
Kennedy faced one more batter and his night ended, going 6.2 innings and permitting five runs (four earned) on five hits. Bryan Whitacre entered and pitched through the eighth inning, allowing just one hit in a scoreless 1.1 innings of work.
Aaron Palensky and Zach Costello each reached to start the eighth inning, via hit by pitches. Cannons reliever Matthew Marsili and Costello ended up both being ejected after Marsili hit Costello in the collarbone.
Anthony Zimmerman came into the game and Julio Creazolla replaced Costello at first base. The next batter, Johnny Butler, laid down a sacrifice bunt. Catcher Nicholas Hanks fielded it, and airmailed it into right field, allowing Palensky to score from second off the error and give Winchester the lead, 6-5.
Zion Pettigrew drove in an insurance run later in the inning with an RBI single. The combination of Emilio Valdes, James Grant and Jake Posey finished the ninth to punch to Royals’ ticket to the semifinals.
The Royals travel to New Market to face the Rebels at Kate Collins Field on Tuesday. Game one of the semi-finals is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m.