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Royals prevail in another close one with Panthers
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – When the Guelph Royals and Kitchener Panthers get together, it’s almost a guarantee that it’ll be a tight Intercounty Baseball League match.
“I think it’s just the little inter-city type rivalry,” Guelph right fielder Josh Garton said. “Back in junior days, it was Waterloo, Kitchener and us and we would always battle against each other and we’ve just brought it to the senior league. I think it’s always close because a lot of us have played for Kitchener and stuff like that. There’s been a little bit of flipping and flopping around. We’re all friends so we’re really aggressive and we all want to beat each other.”
But it’s not a mean-spirited aggressiveness.
“Not with these guys,” Garton said.
While the Royals and Panthers entered Tuesday’s game at Hastings Stadium at opposite ends of the standings, it ended up being the latest of the close games between the teams.
The Royals backed up a superb outing by pitcher Yunior Yambatis with three runs in the eighth inning for a 3-0 victory.
The Royals and Panthers have met five times this season and Kitchener has won three of them. The winning run in each game has been scored in the seventh inning or later.
Garton delivered the big blow of the inning as Kitchener starter Jonder Martinez faltered.
“To be honest with you, I’m just trying to go up there and hit the pitch that’s there,” he said after hitting a two-run double. “I was up there to attack early and I got my pitch to handle, finally.”
With one out, Ethan Mohan and Liam Hicks clubbed back-to-back singles before Sean Reilly was hit by a pitch for the 10th time this season and for the fourth time in a week. He’s been hit by 72 pitches since the start of the 2010 season including the high of 12 in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
With the bases loaded, Garton smacked Martinez’s first pitch down the right-field line to score both Mohan and Hicks.
“I’ve been squaring balls up and putting them right at guys so I was just trying to find a hole,” Garton said. “If it landed, great. Other than that, a sac fly would’ve scored one, but luckily it fell today.”
Former Royal Adrian Yuen came in to pitch and issued an intentional walk to Justin Interisano to load the bases before issuing an unintentional walk to Brendan Keys to score Reilly.
Yambatis returned for the ninth and ended up with two men on – a double by Mike Gordner and a walk to Keegan Marsden – before striking out Mike Andrulis to end the game.
Yambatis allowed four hits, the ninth-inning double by Gordner, two singles by Marsden and one single by Mike Glinka. Yambatis also yielded four walks and struck out eight.
Martinez struck out eight in 7 1/3 innings. He also gave up nine hits, but didn’t walk anyone and allowed the three earned runs. Yuen walked two in his 2/3 of an inning.
Reilly hit a double and a single while Hicks hit two singles and Garton belted his double. Hitting one single apiece were Mohan, Interisano, MacLeod and Darius Barlas.
The win lifts the Royals to 10-19 to mark the first time they’ve hit double digits in wins since 2014 when they went 17-19. The loss was costly for the Panthers as it knocked them out of first place. They’re at 19-9 while the defending champion Barrie Baycats climbed to 20-8 with a 13-1 win over the slumping Toronto Maple Leafs (13-14). Barrie has won six in a row while Toronto has lost six in a row.
The Royals are to play the Burlington Herd (9-18) at Burlington’s Nelson Park Thursday at 7:15 p.m. and host Toronto Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Hastings Stadium.