Royals come back late for finals berth

Posted July 20, 2012

Royals come back late for finals berth

A late surge by young and old Armena Royals completed an improbable comeback at Anniversary Park to clinch the semi-final series and knock off Ryley 9-8 Thursday night in game two of the Powerline Baseball League semifinals.

The Rebels played more sound baseball all night, and got a great pitching performance from veteran PBLer Corey Epp. Epp would give up just one run on four hits through the first five innings and his defence was almost impeccable behind him.

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
0 3 0 1 1 3 0 8 7 1
0 1 0 0 0 3 5 9 10 4

Craig Koughan launched a solo blast off Armena starter Ian Sherbaniuk to kickstart a rally in the second frame. Epp would then cash in a pair on an RBI single to stake out a 3-0 lead.

Epp would then work out of trouble in the bottom half. With the bases loaded he forced Cody Sroka to ground out to shortstop Dylan Solberg who tried tagging Cole Tomaszewski running for third. The base ump called a double play at first, but the plate ump after convening said Tomaszewski was safe and the Royals now were within two with two out. But Adam Johnson flied out and the Rebels would start to expand on their lead.

The Rebels scored one on a hurrendous throwing error by Royals shortshop Jason Buzzell, which scored Kevin Reinholt who led the inning off with a double. He`d then smack another RBI double the very next inning to run Sherbaniuk off the hill.

The Rebels then got the play of the night, which almost surely seemed to sink the Royals when, with the bases loaded and two outs, Cole Tomaszewski launched a deep drive to centre field. Kris Kushnerik tracked it and made a running over-the-shoulder snag to preserve the 5-1 lead, and the Royals deflated in disbelief.

Jason Buzzell moved in to try and bridge the middle inning gap after getting the final out in the fifth inning, but a lead-off single by Dustin Solberg followed by a brilliant bunt by Blake Helgland started a Rebel insurance-run rally. An error by second baseman Cole Tomaszewski and a tough hop to Landon Miller at third set up a two-RBI single off the bat of Dylan Solberg to make it 8-1 Ryley after six and a half innings.

The game was now over – we thought.

An injured Chad Samoiseti was downright angry. Still ailing from a collision at homeplate in game one, he went on an inspirational tirade that beckoned over the dozen or so Armena fans in attendance. Samoiseti surprisingly kept the yelling PG13 and the Royals responded.

A lead-off single by rookie phenom Zenan Sherbaniuk followed by a Brendan Kudrowich walk was capped of with a bases clearing two-RBI triple by Adam Johnson. Johnson would score on a Clark Banack groundout.

Newly annointed closer Kyle Ellis took the mound for Armena in the final inning and went 1-2-3 again to get Armena back on the sticks down by four.

Epp, showing signs of fatigue led off the inning beaning Ellis for the second straight at bat and walking the next two. The Rebels brought in reliever Kris Kushnerik to close out the game. After getting down 0-2, Joel Boettger, who entered the game in the sixth inning, smacked a single to right to score two. The young Kudrowich then pounded a single to right as well and the tying run was on third with none out.

Adam Johnson would get a fielder`s choice RBI for the first out to tie the game. After Clark Banack popped out, Buzzell got nicked on the calf, and it was up to third-year Royal Ian Sherbaniuk to complete the comeback.

And he made hay.

A single up the middle meant the speedy Adam Johnson was on his horse heading for home for the walk-off win in dramatic fashion. An exuberant young group celebrated briefly in hysteria realizing they were heading to the finals. 

“You know you haven`t won anything yet,” said an onlooking Tim Ellis keeping things in perspective, dad of Kyle Ellis, who picked up the win on the night. 

Still, the win was special for a team that hasn`t seen postseason action ever since the Royals were restarted in 2008.

The victory prize or possibly punishment, is a date with three-time defending champion Leduc Milleteers, who dispatched the Bardo Athletics in two games 3-2 and 10-0. Tuesday night the game will be in Leduc with Thursday in Armena. Game times are 7 p.m.

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