In front of a record home crowd the Milleteers were trying to make history
tonight and become the first team to win four PBL Championships in a row.
Standing in their way was the Cinderella Men from Armena, coincidently the last
team to threaten to win four in a row in the early 2000s. Player coach Jason
Buzzell had his youngsters peaking at the just the right time and his veteran ace rested
and ready for this tilt.
Early on things went Armena’s way as they were able to score an unearned run
in the second after Zenon Sherbaniuk reached on an error, then went all the way
to third on a wild pitch. Just when it looked like Anstey was going to be able
to work out of it another wild pitch scored Sherbaniuk. Anstey then dug down
deep and was able to strand Boettger on third with a strikeout.
The Royals struck again in the fourth after Boettger got on with another
leadoff error. A hit batter and a sacrifice gave the Royals two in scoring
position. Cagey player coach Jason Buzzell put in a pinch hitter and it paid
off as a quick single plated another to give the Royals a 2-0 lead. The strong arm of Kirk Smith in right field prevented the second runner from scoring as he had to hold at third. The inning could
have been worse, but the normally good Milleteers defense finally decided to
show up as SS Trevor Pahl snagged a grounder up the middle and despite the
tough hop turned a double play to end the inning and save a run.
Those two runs looked like it was going to be enough tonight for the Royals with their ace
Joel Boettger on the hill as he held the Milleteers hitless through three, and All Star SS
Adam Johnson was vacuuming up out after out. In fact the Royal defense as a
whole was perfect tonight as they did not commit an error.
Then in the bottom of the fourth the clock struck twelve on the Cinderella
story and the Royals’ playoff war wagon turned into a pumpkin. The Pahl
brothers Trevor and Steve led off the bottom of the fourth with line drive
singles. Then like a good pitcher should Jon Anstey sacrificed them over into
scoring position. Then after getting down 0-2 rookie Kirk Smith chopped one
through the drawn in infield to score two and tie it up, the first clutch hit
the Milleteers have gotten in a while. Then after a walk and a hit batter
loaded up the bases with two out CF Greg Zilkie broke the Royals’ back with a
clutch two out bases clearing double that would have been a bomb in any other
park in the league. Zilkie then swiped third and scored on a Shane Gerein
Once Anstey got the lead he kicked it into another gear as he wouldn’t allow
another base runner past first base the rest of the way to preserve the win and
give the Milleteers their record breaking four-peat. It was a team effort as
they got contributions from top to bottom as well as the bench. The young Royals
have nothing to hang their heads about as they finally started to deliver on
the promise they have shown the last four seasons and look to have blossomed
into perennial contenders.