Royal Oak Eliminated From Playoff Contention Despite Duryea’s Two Homers

July 15, 2023by Jacob Cotsonika

Caden Duryea (Northwood) did all he could tonight to keep the Leprechauns’ slim playoff hopes alive, but two home runs were not enough, as Royal Oak fell to the Lima Locos 6-5 on Saturday night. Duryea hit two home runs today, bringing in two runs on each of them and doubling his home run total to four on the season and making him one of three players in the GLSCL with that many. 

His first home run came in the bottom of the first, giving Royal Oak an early 3-1 lead after Collin Overholt (Ashland) tripled and Jayden Lopez (UC Riverside) hit an RBI double. Lima answered that with five unanswered runs, making it 6-3. Duryea’s second deep fly cut the deficit to one, hitting in AJ Kostic (Central Michigan) after he had previously singled. 

The difference in the came were Royal Oak’s two errors in the top of the third inning, allowing three unearned runs to score. Lima’s leadoff man, Kolton Schaller, was hit by a pitcher by Christopher Schmees (Saginaw Valley State). Connor Ashby then hit a potential double play ball to first baseman Trey Haeger (Hillsdale), who subsequently threw the ball into left field, allowing Schaller to advance to third on the error. Schaller then scored on a wild pitch. With two outs, another error allowed two runs to score. 

Besides Duryea’s performance, the bats were generally quiet for other Leprechauns. There was a stretch where Locos starter Kaden Arn retired twelve straight batters. After Arn was taken out, reliever Brandon Doehne retired all six Leprechauns he faced to earn a two-inning save. Doehne entered the game with a 8.31 ERA. Locos pitchers also made Royal Oak earn everything it got, handing over one free pass all game, a hit by pitch of Trey Haeger in the second inning.

One other bright spot for Royal Oak tonight was the two pitchers out of the bullpen, with Joseph Nelan (Marian) and Brandon Mann (Michigan) providing five innings of scoreless pitching. Nelan threw three innings in relief, surrendering two hits and giving up no earned runs. A run did come in on his watch, but it was charged to Schmees, who started the inning. Mann also delivered a strong two innings of work to deep the Leprechauns in striking distance. He retired all six Locos he faced, striking out two of them and forcing weak contact from the others. 

Mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, Royal Oak will play the role of spoiler with seven games on the schedule, one game being against the Locos and three against the Sandusky Ice Haulers, the two teams left in the race for the second playoff spot in the North Division. The final game against Lima will be a road game, and two games against Sandusky will be at home. Those two home games will be this coming Thursday and Friday, both set to be 7:05 p.m. first pitches. That is a part of a three-day homestand that will be the last chance for anyone to catch the Leprechauns at the Lucky Corner this summer. Royal Oak will play the first game of a three-game series against the Jet Box at home, before playing the final two games of the year on the road.