By BILLY HEYEN
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The first two innings at Frontier Field were scoreless but that didn’t foreshadow what the Section VI visitors from Royalton-Hartland would do the rest of the way. The Rams cruised to victory over Midlakes in the Class B Far West Regional, 10-1, on Saturday. The win for Royalton-Hartland means a trip to the state final four next weekend in Binghamton.
Here are the big moments from the Rams’ win.
Four strikeout first inning for Bruning
Charlie Bruning started on the hill for Royalton-Hartland. He struck out the first batter he faced. Then he struck out the second batter he faced. Midlakes’ starter, Devin Hicks, singled on a blooper over the third baseman but then Bruning struckout the cleanup hitter.
The inning wasn’t over, though. That third strikeout was a wild pitch and Midlakes’ Ezra Maslyn reached safely with Hicks going all the way to third. Maslyn stole second with the next man up, setting up runners on second and third.
The tough spot didn’t bother Bruning, though. He just struck out his fourth batter of that frame to keep the game scoreless and stifle an early Midlakes’ opportunity.
Gavyn Boyle brings two home
Royalton-Hartland put three runners on via walks in the top of the third inning. Gavyn Boyle, the Rams’ left fielder, stepped in. He put a good swing on the ball and sent it out to center.
Midlakes’ outfielder went back on the ball, but it seemed to keep carrying on him. In the end, it went just past his glove. Two runs came around to score for the the Rams.
The next batter, Charlie Brigham, lofted another fly to center that served as a sac fly. The walks and Boyle’s drive meant that Royalton-Hartland had a 3-0 lead after two and a half.
Midlakes’ answer is stifled
Midlakes came right out in the bottom of the third and looked like answering that 3-spot. Jordan Maher led off with a single and Devin Kelly drove a double to right center to score him. It kept coming, too.
The next two batters walked to load the bases. That was the end of the day for Royalton-Hartland’s starter, Charlie Bruning. But another Bruning could come in, lefthander Jacob Bruning. He slammed the door shut on what looked like at least one more run for sure.
He struck out the first guy he faced. Then he struck out the second. The inning ended on a lazy flyball to the left fielder. Bruning had bailed out Bruning and Midlakes didn’t have quite the answer it was looking for. When R-H scored two more in the top of the fourth, the missed opportunity for the Screaming Eagles loomed large. And as Royalton-Hartland kept pouring it on, surely Midlakes wished it had cashed a few more.
The grounder went to shortstop. The throw went across the diamond and Royalton-Hartland’s players threw their hands in the air. They’d be heading to the state final four after Justin Bruning induced a game-ending groundout. They met on the mound in celebration.
As the Rams waited to receive their Far West Regional trophy, they patted each other on the backs and high-fived. Then they raised it in the air. More high-fives. Cheering from their fans along the third-base side.
The win means a state semifinal matchup at Maine-Endwell High School in Binghamton next Friday for the Rams.