Royal Oak is looking for some momentum, coming off of four straight losses in GLSCL play. They were granted an opportunity to get some momentum back with a non-league game against the Midland Tribe, one of the top teams in their own league, being 6-2 this year so far and coming off a 31-11 campaign last year.
The offense for both teams initially started off slow. Ryan Callanan (San Bernardino Valley) started the bottom of the first off with a leadoff single, but was quickly caught stealing second. The Leprechauns had a golden opportunity in the second after rain delayed the game, with Aidan Carlson coming in relief for the Tribe after the stoppage. He walked the first three batters he faced, loading the bases for the Leprechauns with no outs. Royal Oak was unable to capitalize on the opportunity at all, with Peter Stewart (Lake Land) looking at strike three and Brayden Daulton (Southwest Baptist) grounding into the double play, keeping the game scoreless.
Midland used their Houdini act as fuel for their own offense, using four singles and an error by the Leprechauns to score three runs in the third. The first run came off a sacrifice fly by Addy Vallad, and two came in after an RBI single by Donovan Borg. The hit probably should have scored one, but a fielding error in left by Murray State’s John Orberson allowed the second runner to score all the way from first.
Despite struggling with walks all game, the Tribe’s Carlson kept the Leps’ offense at bay through all six innings of work he had in relief. He walked seven, but surrendered just one hit, a double by Patrick Ilitch (Valparaiso) in the sixth. Each inning at least one man reached base, but no one was able to reach home, keeping the score 3-0 Midland.
After Carlson threw ninety pitches, Midland, already shorthanded, was forced to bring in a new pitcher for the eighth inning. They brought in Chase Raymond, who had played in left field up to that point. Raymond struggled with his command throughout the inning, walking four batters. The first run of the game came for Royal Oak after Orberson reached on a Midland error, scoring Alex Cheeseman (UAB) and making it 3-1. Peter Stewart had the play of the day for the ‘Chauns, hitting two runs in on a hard hit single that bounced off the shortstop’s glove, tying it at three.
For the ninth, Royal Oak turned to Wayne State’s David Thurman, who faced trouble after Cam Steeves hit a one-out double. Thurman responded by striking the next two batters out, leaving the go-ahead runner stranded in scoring position.
Raymond stayed in the game for Midland to pitch the bottom half of the ninth, with Royal Oak facing down a possible walk-off. He walked his fifth batter, putting Michael Laureau (Wabash Valley) on first with nobody out. Cheeseman then struck out for the fourth time in the game, which put Patrick Ilitch up to bat. With a 1-1 count, Coach Jonathan Vance called for a hit and run. Laureau had a great jump, but Ilitch hit a line drive directly to the right fielder, who made the play and then doubled off Laureau at first to keep it tied.
Since it was an exhibition game, the teams elected to call it a draw and not go into extras. Royal Oak will start back up GLSCL play again tomorrow with a four-game set against the Richmond Jazz, the first two being at the Lucky Corner. Royal Oak will look to improve upon their 1-4 record, but it will be a challenge, as Richmond has begun the season 4-1.