ROY — For those keeping track, the bottom of the first inning of Roy High’s baseball game Monday against Brighton took 19 minutes to complete.
It featured 10 at-bats, five runs, four walks, two errors, one hit batter and one base hit. The rest, as they say, was elementary.
In a season where the Royals somewhat came out of nowhere to win the Region 5 title by one game, they have leaned on pitching and defense.
That’s what head coach Monty Vorwaller has been preaching all season. And by the way, that region title hasn’t sunk in yet.
“We’re young and we always believed we could win the region, but they believed in what we were trying to do, they bought into the process, they worked really hard...phenomenal group of kids that just want to win and do better,” he said.
Obviously it’s worked. There were some question marks around Roy’s overall youth as a team. Would the inexperience bite the Royals or would it serve as a shackles-off mentality with nothing to lose?
It’s been the latter. Roy started the Region 5 campaign 2-3, then shot out of a cannon to finish 10-5 and alone in first place.
The latest installment of the Royals’ emphasis on pitching and defense played out in Monday’s 10-1 win over Brighton in the first round of the 5A baseball state playoffs.
Senior pitcher Hunter Yoder tossed a complete game, allowed six hits, struck out seven and even drove in two runs at the plate himself. Roy didn’t face much danger when Brighton was batting.
“Pitching and defense wins games. Our pitcher was throwing strikes, our defense was phenomenal, and as you saw that five-run inning there in the first was a lot of walks with one hit,” Vorwaller said.
The Royals pounced on errors, they were patient at the plate and they’ll have to stick to good pitching and good defense on Tuesday when they host Timpanogos in the second round of the 5A playoffs at 4 p.m.
The first three Roy batters in the first inning walked. Sean Walker hit a fly ball to left field that went in and out of the left fielder’s glove. AJ Estes drew a bases-loaded walk and it was suddenly 2-0 with a Brighton pitcher warming up in the outfield.
A two-run error made it 4-0 before Kyler Gibbons delivered the first unquestionable hit of the inning: an RBI double to make it 5-0. From then on, Yoder had a comfortable cushion to work with.
Jaxson Dart’s second-inning single brought in a run to make it 6-0. In the fourth inning, Roy ramped the lead up to 10-1 when Estes hit a sacrifice fly, Miles Gage hit an RBI single and Yoder hit a two-run single.
From there, Yoder kept the Bengals off-balance at the plate the rest of the time. He relied on a good changeup that left a lot of batters whiffing and being way out in front of the ball.
“It was really working; it was diving out of the zone. Some of them I left up, but they missed it and it worked...it was mostly changeups. I mean, we’d start them out with fastballs, but when they started catching on a little bit, we started mixing,” Yoder said.
Roy knew a little bit about Brighton from the teams’ meeting last season, a 6-3 extra-innings Brighton win that knocked the Royals out of the 5A state playoffs.
The next step for this young Royals squad is a matchup with the Timpanogos Timberwolves, who have been one of the best teams in the entire state for about a decade now.
They do all of the little things well. Roy knows it has to be at its best Tuesday.