“How can you not be romantic about baseball?”
-Billy Beane (Moneyball, 2011)
The Johnson University Royals Baseball team split a double header at Asbury University in Wilmore, KY on Friday. Game 1 was tight throughout. The Royals fought with everything they had and Noah Malicoat (JR/Lake City, TN) pitched 4 innings with only 4 hits and 2 runs. The Royals’ defense kept the game close, but could not get runs across the plate. In the top of the 7th inning, Johnson loaded the bases with no outs, but the batting continued the struggle and all three runners were stranded. Final of Game 1 was 3-0.
Game 2 was a journey. The Royals opened the game strong by putting up a 3 spot in the top of the 1st inning behind a triple from Derrick Lay (FR/Knoxville, TN) and good situational hitting from Noah Malicoat, Chandler Viscardis (JR/Seymour, TN), and Dalton Pruitt (SR/Danville, VA). The Eagles bounced back in the bottom of the inning to score 2 runs. They then built on those two in the second inning to tie the game at 3 runs each.
Tyler Lopes (SO/Fort Myers, FL) entered the game for the Royals in the third inning to get out of a two bases jam. He continued to work for three full innings while only giving up one hit and recording three strikeouts. Said Lopes after the game, “I thought it went great. I was really fired up. It felt really good to go out there and help the team. I know we needed some momentum and, I’m happy I was able to help with that.” As well as the Royals played defense behind Lopes, the Eagles kept up, also holding the Royals to no runs.
In the sixth inning, Zach Wyatt (FR/Seymour, TN) took over on the mound for Johnson. Zach quickly dispatched the first two outs of the inning with strikeouts. After a close play at 3rd, the Royals believed that they were out of the inning. However, the Asbury coaches appealed the play and upon further discussion from the umpires, the call was reversed and the Royals were called back onto the field. This lit a fire under Johnson’s players and the momentum shifted their way for the remainder of the game. Zach Wyatt struck out the very next batter to get out of the inning.
At this point, the snow began to fall. After an uneventful 7th inning, the Royals took their turn at bat in extras. On the first pitch, Chandler Viscardis doubled down 3rd base line just past the glove of a diving fielder. Dalton Pruitt attempted to advance the runner with a bunt down the line to first, and beat out the throw for a single. After a wild pitch by the Asbury pitch, Viscardis scored to take the lead. Noah Malicoat then hit a two strike single to score Pruitt and put the Royals up by 2.
By the bottom of the 8th, the snow was falling hard. Zach Wyatt continued working through the close of the game by recording another three strikeouts to finish the win, bringing his total to eight strikeouts in three innings pitched.
“Our guys came out and played well. Minimized the errors and capitalized on big hits. Pitching has been phenomenal and I can’t give enough credit to (the pitchers) for coming out and shutting it down and getting us a big win today” said Assistant Coach Chase White. “This win is huge. We’ve been right on the brink of getting over the hurdle and I think this really did it for us.”
This game is not one that the Royals will soon forget.
The Johnson Player of the Game was Zach Wyatt for his 3.0 IP, 8 SO, 2 H, and his first collegiate win.