June 7 - Zach Ewald pitched four scoreless innings in relief and Xavier Herring scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning to lift the MVP Royals National over the NOVA Premier, 3-2, in a Premier Showcase League (PSL) matchup last night at Westfield High School.
Ewald entered the game in the fourth inning and allowed just three hits with five strikeouts en route to recording the save. Throwing mostly his fastball, Ewald walked just one batter and faced no more than four batters in an inning. “I really would have liked to have thrown a few more first pitch strikes but my fastball was my top pitch today,” Ewald said.
Left-hander Chris Dudley started for the Royals and allowed two runs on two hits while striking out eight over three innings. The Premier countered with left-hander Dylan Weber, who held the Royals scoreless over two innings with four strikeouts.
Joe Alexander provided the only offense for the Premier in the third with a two-run double with the bases loaded off Dudley. Alexander and Cameron Kerr each finished with two hits for the Premier.
The Royals answered with a pair of runs in the fourth after Josh Gjormand and Dylan Wilkinson came around the score to tie the game 2-2. Gjormand went 2-for-3 with a run scored while Wilkinson and Dudley each had an RBI for the Royals.
“There is no doubt that they can hit at a high level but it’s their defense that makes them,” Royals coach Bill Wilkinson said of his middle infield paring of Gjormand and Wilkinson. “Our infield is phenomenal and it makes my job easy. It’s pretty cool.”
Premier reliever Patrick Whittingham came on in relief in the third and allowed both runs (one earned) in the fourth. Braden Huebsch and Aidan Willard would pitch the final three innings for the Premier, surrendering just an unearned run.
“I was impressed with everyone we had pitch tonight,” Premier coach Brett Johnson said. “Weber had a great start, Whittingham threw to contact well and Huebsch came in and was pumping it pretty good.”
The Royals grabbed the lead off Huebsch in the fifth after Herring reached on an error, stole second and then stole home on a delayed steal. With Kyle Petak breaking early from first, Herring scored easily from third after the throw went into second.
Ewald would then protect the one run lead by allowing just two men to reach in the final three innings, including a one-two-three seventh inning. Dudley and Ewald struck out at least one batter in each inning on their way to 13 total in the game.
“It’s fun to watch these guys pitch,” Wilkinson said. “They love the game of baseball and they love being out here and I love being out here trying to identify areas where I can help them.”
The Premier will play next against the Loudoun Aces Varsity at South Lake High School this Saturday while the Royals will face the Hillcats Prime 17u at Robinson Secondary School on Saturday.
Left to Right: Chris Dudley struck out eight over three innings and Zach Ewald recorded the save after pitching four scoreless innings for the Royals in a 3-2 win. Photos by Josh Belanger.