The Maple Ridge Royals used some late-game heroics to win their first-ever Junior Men’s Provincial baseball title on Sunday.
The Royals stunned the three-time defending provincial champion Newton Nationals with a 2-1 win in New Westminster thanks to a little patience at the plate.
After a scoring threat in the bottom of the 7th inning was snuffed out by a controversial call the Royals looked lost at the plate as the team was down to its final four outs before starting the rally.
Trailing 1-0 and with two out in the bottom of the 8th inning, the Royals changed the tide with singles from Cole Ross and Ian Rennie. After a pitching change, things went from bad to worse for the Nationals as Dan Rennie, Erik Herbranson, and Justin Armstrong all walked, leading to the only runs that Royals would need.
Kevan Speth recorded the win after reliving starter Andreas Irion, who pitched five strong innings, only to leave trailing 1-0 after the 5th. Irion was named player of the game for his strong start..
The Royals went into the playoffs finishing in first place with a record of 11 wins and just two losses. The team lead the league in runs scored with 102 while finishing in second in runs allowed with 42. The reigning champion Nationals gave up a meager 25 runs during the regular season. However, it was their pitching that ultimately cost them.
The Royals punched their ticket to the finals by topping the Cloverdale Rays 6-1 in the semi-finals.
This was the Royals third trip to the finals.