Royals drop another one to Burlington
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – The Guelph Royals just haven’t figured out the Burlington Herd.
The Herd scored a total of four runs in the final two innings to double the Royals 8-4 on a scorching Saturday afternoon at Hastings Stadium in a game that started about 12 hours after the Royals arrived home from their extra-innings loss to the Hamilton Cardinals in Hamilton Friday night.
“Things have got to pick up, absolutely, but the guys are playing hard,” Royals field manager Dave teBoekhorst said. “We had a 14-inning game last night. We were down 9-1 after two innings and battled hard and tied it in the ninth and went to the 14th. We got home at 1 o’clock and had to be back here first thing. Not an excuse for what happens, there are things that need to change. We need to walk a lot less guys and give a lot less free passes.”
The Intercounty Baseball League’s 100th season has broken into two distinct battles in its standings – the top half who are all above .500 and the bottom half, those below .500 that includes the Brantford Red Sox (7-10), Royals (7-13), Hamilton Cardinals (6-11) and Burlington (6-13).
“We’re trying to work through things. There’s a bit of a drop off in talent from our top guys to our bottom guys. We’re trying to gel a team. We’re playing hard. Nobody’s trying to come out here and lose. We’re trying to come out here and win baseball games,” teBoekhorst said. “We just need to do things differently. We need to pick it up and just elevate our game.”
Saturday’s win kept the Herd as one of two teams in the eight-team league the Royals haven’t beaten this season as the victory was Burlington’s third win over Guelph this season.
The Kitchener Panthers (13-6) are the other team the Royals haven’t beaten as the Panthers won 3-2 in Kitchener June 10 in the lone meeting between the teams.
“Everybody makes the playoffs so it’s not like we’re panicked about what situation or what place we’re in,” teBoekhorst said. “Keep in mind, we had 16 games under our belt last year and this thing folded. Bringing a whole new franchise in isn’t always the easiest to get new players together because you don’t have your true core and etc, etc. We’ve got seven wins this year and they only had one last year. There are a lot of positives.”
Things looked like they’d be different this time when the Royals, wearing their Canada Day weekend red jerseys, jumped to an early 3-0 lead with a solo homer by Sean Reilly in the first inning and two more runs in the second. However, Burlington tied it up with three runs in the top of the third and the Royals regained the lead with a run in the bottom of the inning. The Herd pulled even with a single run in the fifth.
The score stayed in a stalemate until the Herd scored three earned runs in the eighth. With Burlington’s Reese O’Farrell on first and Vaughn Bryan on third with one out, O’Farrell stole second and Bryan scored second as Guelph catcher Brendan Keys saw his throw in an attempt to catch O’Farrell stealing soar into the outfield and that allowed Bryan to score the eventual game-winning run.
The Herd know they can steal against the Royals as they swiped six bases in the game to give them 28 on the season. The Royals have yielded 36 stolen bases this season and have caught six attempted steals.
The Royals were also guilty of giving up too many walks Saturday, eight of them in all. Starter Yomar Concepcion walked six in 7 1/3 innings and Daniel Marquez walked two in the ninth. David Hatt didn’t allow and walks in his stint of 2/3 of an inning.
The Royals scored all four of their runs against Burlington starter Casey Bouillere-Howard. The former Guelph Gryphon went 5 2/3 innings, yielding six hits and three walks while striking out five. Lanky import Tyler Herr, he’s 6-foot-8, collected his third win of the season as he held the Royals to three hits and two walks in 3 1/3 innings. He also had five strikeouts.
Concepcion gave up six hits and had five strikeouts while Hatt and Marquez each surrendered a hit and each had a strikeout.
The Royals had nine hits – the homer by Reilly, a double and single by Keys, two singles by Darius Barlas and one single apiece by Josh Garton, Matt Pilarczyk, Jon Waltenbury and Adam Rossit.
The Herd had eight hits led by Bryan with a triple and a single and O’Farrell with a double and a single.
“We just have to take care of the baseball and make sure we’re not walking guys. That’s the bottom line,” teBoekhorst said. “I’m not really panicked and not too frustrated, really.”
The Royals are awaiting the arrival of Angel Villalona from the Dominican Republic. He replaces countryman Narciso Padilla who was released before the league’s signing deadline earlier in the week after hitting .184 and committing 10 errors in 14 games.
The 27-year-old Villalona hits for power, not average, as he had 84 homers, 364 RBIs and a .248 batting average in eight seasons of minor league baseball after he was signed as an undrafted amateur free agent by the San Francisco Giants in 2006. Most of his playing time has been at first base, although he has also played third. Villalona’s arrival could be helpful as Royals’ first baseman Justin Interisano has been battling a sore knee that flared up again Saturday.
While the Royals have only played Kitchener once this season, that’ll change in the next week, weather permitting, as the teams are to meet Tuesday and Saturday at Hastings Stadium, both with 7:30 p.m. game times, and July 8 at Kitchener’s Jack Couch Park starting at 2 p.m. The Royals are also slated to play the Barrie Baycats (13-7) at Barrie’s Coates Stadium Thursday at 7:30 p.m.