Dylan Wilkinson launched a two-run home run and Shane Stiehl earned the win after pitching five plus innings for the MVP Royals National in a 5-4 victory over the Braddock Bearcats last night at Lake Braddock Secondary School.
The Royals found clutch hitting at the right times and made defensive plays that won’t appear in the box score, but were key to a victory in a one-run game against a talented Bearcats club.
Wilkinson’s diving play in the hole at shortstop on an infield single prevented a run in the first inning while another diving catch by Ryan Krahulec prevented another in the fourth. Catcher J.T. Thomas was also stellar behind the plate, but made one of the best plays of the night without even touching the ball. On a foul ball near the first base dugout in the fifth inning, Thomas communicated to his first baseman exactly where the fence was, enabling the catch to be made.
“That’s the kind of baseball that signifies our team,” Royals coach Bill Wilkinson said.
Stiehl started on the mound for the Royals and was sharp early, using his defense to scatter three hits over three scoreless innings while striking out four.
“Shane has become that guy, he just gets on the mound and gets the job done,” Wilkinson said. “Shane’s velocity has picked up, his offspeed is now for strikes and he is inducing swings and trusting his defense.”
The Bearcats also received strong outings from Lyle Miller-Green and Bobby Leitzel, who each tossed a scoreless inning to start the game for the Bearcats. The Royals touched up Leitzel in the third after Josh Gjormand drove in Nick Giannini, who led off the inning with a walk and later stole second. Wilkinson then gave the Royals a 3-0 lead with his home run to right field.
“Dylan’s [home run] off the top of the cages really sparked our offense and Josh was just getting things done at the top of the order,” Stiehl said.
The Bearcats finally scratched a run across in the fourth after a two out walk and a RBI double from Ryan Cuadros. The Royals then answered with a pair of runs in the fifth inning off reliever Sam Grable on a sac fly from Gjormand and an error on a hard hit ball by Wilkinson. Gjormand finished the night 1-for-2 with a walk, two RBI and a run scored from the leadoff spot for the Royals.
Stiehl was pulled for left-hander Zach Perkins in the sixth after a leadoff single and a walk. Miller-Green quickly greeted Perkins with a towering three-run home run to center field to cut the Royals lead to 5-4. The lefty then settled in to retire the last five batters he faced, including striking out the side in the seventh to record the save.
The Royals will play next against the Bradley Eagles this Sunday at Oakton High School while the Bearcats will be in action next against the Diamond Elite next Wednesday at Woodson High School.
Left to Right: Dylan Wilkinson hit a two-run home run and Shane Stiehl got the win after pitching five plus innings in a 5-4 victory over the Braddock Bearcats.