Despite a wicked wind blowing in from left field, the top-seeded Royals still managed to post 22 runs in their victory over the eighth-seeded Longshots Thursday night in Los Lunas Men’s Softball League’s “A” tournament at Daniel Fernandez Park.
The Longshots looked like they had a good shot at an upset after taking an early 4-2 lead in the first inning. But the Royals offense found its groove in the top of the second.
The Royals showed infinite patience at the plate, drawing walks to load the bases for Eliseo Aguirre.
“The wind had a lot to do with it,” Royals veteran pitcher Dave Chavez said. “I throw a knuckleball, and the wind was carrying it away, so I had to switch to a regular rotation on my pitches.”
Aguirre did not leave his teammates stranded. Belting a base-clearing triple on the first pitch to give them a 5-4 lead, the Royals extended their lead to 7-4 before the inning was over.
The fans and players held their collective breath in the top of the fifth when Josh Kerns lined a shot right back at Longshots pitcher Juan Baca, hitting him in the head. Baca fell to the ground and was helped off the field. An ambulance was called, but Baca was checked out by the paramedics and cleared to go home.
After the incident, the Royals mounted a major offensive, putting up four runs to extend their lead to 11-6.
The Longshots did not score again, but the Royals were far from finished. The Royals scored 11 runs in the sixth, capped by a two-run home run by Philip Barela. Aguirre followed with a solo shot to give the Royals a commanding 22-6 lead. They held the Longshots scoreless in the next inning to extend their win streak to 17 games and advance to the next round of the playoffs with a sweep of the best-of-three-game series.
“We just want to go to the championship game and we’ll play whoever’s there,” Chavez said.
The Royals will return to action on Thursday to face the winner of the Bar III/Two-Minute Warning and Crushers series. Bar III won the first meeting on Monday, but fell to the Crushers on Thursday night, 8-4. Game 3 will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6.
In other action this week, the Bandits swept the Rebels in the “A” tournament with a 15-5 win on Tuesday and a punishing 32-1 pounding on Thursday night. The Socorro Magic closed the door on the Machetes Wednesday night, beating them by forfeit in the seventh inning when the Machetes had a player thrown out.
The Diamondbacks eliminated Rolloff Containers in the single-elimination “B” tournament with a 17-7 win on Tuesday night. Also, the Sidewinders knocked Aztec LP out of the “B” tournament on Wednesday with a 14-13 victory in the closest game of the tournament thus far.
The Brewzers, the eighth seed in the “B” tournament, advanced to the next round when Team Poison forfeited on Wednesday night.
The “B” tournament will continue on Monday night, when D&H Underground meets the Diamondbacks in the semi-finals at 7 p.m. and the Sidewinders face the Brewzers in Monday’s nightcap at 8:10 p.m.