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Royals beat the odds, steal third-place finish at provincials

The 18U Royals overcame sluggish start to battle to championship round, surprising rivals en route to third-place finish among Ontario teams
royals celebrate third place finish
The Space Age Insulation 18U Royals celebrate a big win at the provincial championships this weekend. In the back, from left: Andre Browne ,Jhett Winkel, Nathan Malloy and Nolan Inglis. Front: Gabe Rutherford, Whyatt Winkel, Will Timpano, James Pritchard, Mitchell Goldsmith, Austin Lamb, Reece Boyle, Colson Long and Nolan Ness-Thomas Coaches: Wes Winkel, Mark Kuntz and Ryan Curtis.

The Space Age Insulation 18U Royals overcame a first-game loss to battle all the way back and eventually finished third in Ontario at the provincial championships in Brantford this past weekend.

The Royals qualified for the 14-team provincial championship by capturing the York Simcoe crown two weeks ago. As a result they won the right to represent their league at the tournament against the other 13 regional champions from throughout the province.

Orillia played its first game against the host Brantford squad, Orillia spotted Brantford an early lead, but battled hard and took back the lead 5-4 after six innings. The top of the seventh was a disaster for the Royals; they just simply could not get outs and surrendered 12 runs to Brantford.

Improbably, the Royals battled back to tally seven runs in the bottom half of the inning. Mitchell Goldsmith eventually locked down the final outs for the Royals. Nathan Malloy and Nolan Inglis were the offensive leaders for the Royals in this game.

The loss put the Royals on the brink of elimination in the double knockout event.

Game 2 saw Orillia take on the Northern Ontario champs, the Sault Ste. Marie Black Sox, Orillia spotted the Sox an early 4-0 lead but began chipping away at the lead in the second inning.

Orillia snatched the lead in the bottom of the sixth when Whyatt Winkel laid down a sacrifice bunt to score the winning run. Reece Boyle got the start and pitched a gem, going six innings and not allowing a run after the first. Orillia had nine hits in the game including two each from Will Timpano and Gabe Rutherford.

The win allowed the Royals to stay alive and eliminated the Black Sox.

Game 3 pitted the Royals against the Eastern Ontario champs, the Kanata Cubs. 

The Royals captured the lead early and then continued to stay one step ahead of the Cubs, eventually earning a 11-7 victory in the high-scoring affair. Rutherford pitched six solid innings for the Royals, capturing the win. Nolan Ness-Thomas, Reece Boyle and Nathan Malloy all had multi-hit games for the winning squad.

The win advanced the Royals to the quarter-finals and eliminated the Cubs.

Game 4 on Saturday night saw the Royals take on the mid-west champs, the London Talons, in their third game of the day under a blazing hot sun.

The Royals started slow again, surrendering the first three runs to the southern squad in the first inning. The Royals battled back quickly when Austin Lamb singled home Jhett Winkel to ignite the Royals.

The offence stalled however and the Royals found themselves trailing London by one run headed into the last inning which would prove to be a memorable comeback inning for the Orillia team.

Whyatt Winkel started the comeback with a sneaky bunt single. Andrew Browne then singled to left, before Colson Long battled at the plate, eventually taking first base after being hit by a pitch to load the bases. Inglis then flew out to left, bringing the Royals down to their last out.

Rutherford battled the London pitcher, fouling off pitches until an errant throw allowed Winkel to steal home with the tying run. Two pitches later, Browne was also
able to steal home with the eventual winning run. Malloy returned to the mound to complete the win, pitching a stellar complete game. The win eliminated the London team and advanced the Royals to the championship round Sunday with only three teams remaining.

The Ancaster Angles received a bye to the finals which meants the Royals had to have a rematch with the undefeated Brantford Red Sox.

Despite James Pritchard pitching a gem on the mound, the Royals' defensive errors cost them greatly. The Sox jumped to an early 3-0 lead that they would not surrender. Ness-Thomas and J. Winkel each had a couple of hits in the loss.

The loss eliminated the Royals but secured them a third-place finish among the top teams in the province. The result was a strong finish for a team that finished third in their league during the regular season.