SoRo’s Royals Reclaim Their Throne

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Sports / Jun. 15, 2017 8:42am EDT

By Emily Ballou

South Royalton shortstop Stephen Paige makes a sliding catch in early action of the D-IV Vermont State championship game at Centennial Field in Burlington on Friday night. South Royalton went on to defeat Danville in a 4-0 shutout. (Photo by Ben DeFlorio)South Royalton shortstop Stephen Paige makes a sliding catch in early action of the D-IV Vermont State championship game at Centennial Field in Burlington on Friday night. South Royalton went on to defeat Danville in a 4-0 shutout. (Photo by Ben DeFlorio)
The number-one seed South Royalton Royals (17-0) found themselves in a familiar situation last Friday, June 9 as they traveled to Centennial Field in Burlington to defeat the number-2 seed Danville Indians (12-5) in the Vermont State Division IV Championship title game once again. Upholding their undefeated season, the Royals shut the Indians out in a 4-0 ballgame.

Smooth Road

After an undefeated regular season, the Royals were seeded first in their division and had a bye the first round of playoffs. Then, seniors Joshua Scoskie and Dalton McDougall split time pitching for their quarterfinal game as they five-inning mercy-ruled Whitchester in a 15-0 one-hitter, fanning a total of 10 batters. The Royals then went on to defeat Long Trail in yet another mercy-rule game, winning their semifinal 17-2 with McDougall and fellow senior Justin Brock sharing the mound. Even from the beginning of the season, it was clear that the Royals would earn another trip to Centennial due to their relentless dedication, drive, talent, and hard work.

Championship Game

In the first inning, leadoff hitter Nicholas Howe opened the game with a single and stole second. Senior Stephen Paige then popped out to first but advanced Howe to third. Junior Dominick Small walked and then senior McDougall struck out on a high pitch. Small left first early to steal second and successfully draw the throw as Howe dove home safe, scoring the first run of the game, thus making the score 1-0 Royals.

Bottom of the third, freshman Zeb Perreault led off with a walk. Howe then flew out to left field. Paige followed with a fielder’s choice single, stole second on a pass ball and then scored on McDougall’s hit to deep centerfield, advancing the score to 2-0 Royals.

In the fifth inning, sophomore catcher Jake Hewitt led off with a walk. Freshman George Carr courtesy-ran for Hewitt, stealing second. Perreault then pulled the ball down the right field line for a groundout to advance Carr to third with one out. Howe then hit a solid single up the center to score Carr, making 3-0 Royals ballgame thus far.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Small led off with a walk. Carr was pinch running for Small, and a hit and run was put on as Andrew “Bip Bob” Moore singled to left. Carr ran first to third and then scored on an errant throw by Danville’s left fielder, clutching the win and bringing the score to 4-0 Royals.

The game ended in the top of the seventh with Scoskie receiving a soft hit ball at the front of the pitcher’s mound and throwing it to Small at first for the third out.

“The small things we’ve been working on all year made the difference,” Head Coach Mike Ballou says. “We played hard and we played well.”

Falsely predicted by the Burlington Free Press to have lost 9-4, the Royals did not even let up nine hits, much less nine runs in the championship game. Scoskie (7- 0) tossed the full game, giving up merely three walks and three hits, but striking out 13 batters.

A Successful Season

Defensively, the Royals collectively pitched seven shutouts out of the 16 games played this season. Scoskie (7-0) tallied a total of 77 strikeouts on the mound. McDougall (5-0) fanned 22, Brock (1-0) 14, Small (2-0) 13, Paige two, Howe (1- 0) three, and freshman Logan Martin pitched seven strikeouts as well.

Offensively, the Royals also had a strong year. They scored an impressive 217 runs this season, only giving up 19 runs in total, with seven of the starting nine players batting over .370 and the team’s batting average coming out to .378. The Royals racked up a total of 172 hits which included 20 doubles, 13 triples, and 4 home runs.

A Royal Déjà Vu

Just like last year, the Royals faced Danville and won the championship game the day before graduation. This same scenario also happened four years ago in 2013 when the Royals also defeated Danville in the championship game. This year’s win makes it the ninth state baseball championship that the Royals have won.

When the Royals returned home after their late night win under the lights, the local fire department and flatbed from Blakeman’s Towing met the bus coming off the interstate. They led them into a fan-filled town, sirens and voices blaring for the victory parade processional, a Royal tradition for teams that win a championship.

The Royals part with eight seniors this year: pitcher/infielder Scoskie, second baseman/pitcher Brock, pitcher/third baseman Mc- Dougall, shortstop/pitcher Paige, left fielder Emily Ballou, centerfielder/ pitcher N. Howe, and right fielders Andrew Moore and Michael Hemond. (The team also consists of four South Royalton baseball alumni and three fathers of senior players: head coach Mike and daughter Emily Ballou, and assistant coach John and son Josh Scoskie, and assistant coach Paul and son Justin Brock. Ballou and Brock’s elder sons played on the 2013 winning championship team. The Royals’ first base coach Devin Cilley also was a key player when he played for the Royals in the early 2000s.)

The day after the championship game, all eight seniors could be seen at graduation donning their gold-place medals with their caps and gowns. Although the team of 13 players leaves only five returners for next season, more promising talent is coming up in the ranks, so yet another baseball championship is in the future for the Royals.

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