Roy­als win first O-40 base­ball ti­tle

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By BILL GATES bgates@ches­pub.com Fol­low me on Twit­ter @DEa­gle_s­ports

Prior to the start of the East­ern Baltimore County Over-40 Base­ball League sea­son, sev­eral mem­bers of the Roy­als got to­gether to dis­cuss whether to con­tinue play­ing, or fold the team.

So did sev­eral mem­bers of an­other league team, the Cubs.

Both teams de­cided to stick around for, at least, one more sea­son. And on Sun­day the two teams met in the league cham­pi­onship game at the Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 38 field.

The Roy­als ral­lied from an early five-run deficit to win their first league ti­tle, 11-8.

“We had a meet­ing at the lo­cal pub be­fore the sea­son to de­cide if we would keep play­ing,” Roy­als man­ager Jeff Patti said. “I thought ev­ery­one was go­ing to say, time to pack it in.

“But they all de­cided to come back and give it one more shot.”

The Roy­als joined the league in 2011, the leaue’s sec­ond year. For their first sev­eral sea­sons, they would usu­ally have one of the best records dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, only to fal­ter in the play­offs.

This sea­son, the Roy­als en­tered the post­sea­son tour­na­ment with an av­er­age record (7-6), then went 3-0 in the play­offs to reach the cham­pi­onship game for the first time and win the ti­tle.

“The base­ball gods have a funny way of work­ing,” Patti said. “All those years we thought we should have won it, and we win it the year no one ex­pected us to win.”

Both the Cubs and the Roy­als ad­vanced to the cham­pi­onship game with up­sets in the semi­fi­nals; the Cubs knock­ing off the reg­u­lar-sea­son cham­pion Car­di­nals and the Roy­als elim­i­nat­ing the de­fend­ing cham­pion Dodgers.

The Cubs jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead over the Car­di­nals and held on; the Roy­als fell be­hind the Dodgers and ral­lied for the win.

Af­ter three in­nings on Sun­day, the Cubs led the Roy­als 5-0.

“It was too early to panic,” Patti said. “We were not hav­ing our best day, made some er­rors and stuff we don’t usu­ally do.”

While the game seemed to be un­fold­ing in the Cubs’ fa­vor, they also knew there was still a long way to go.

“There was a long way to go,” Cubs man­ager Dave Cun­diff said.

It ac­tu­ally didn’t take that long at all. The Roy­als scored five runs in the top of the fourth in­ning to tie the score.

Five straight bat­ters — Ryan Moran, Rich O’Mal­ley, Bryan Wil­helm, Jeff Wil­helm and Mitch Stringer all reached base and scored.

The fourth run scored on a fielder’s choice, and the ty­ing run came home on a balk.

It was a new ball­game — and then the Roy­als seemed to hand the game back to the Cubs in the bot­tom of the in­ning.

With two outs and no one on base, the Roy­als hit a bat­ter and then waled the next bat­ter.

The Cubs took ad­van­tage. Cun­diff ripped a two-run dou­ble to cen­ter, then scored on Bill’s bloop sin­gle to right field to give the Cubs an 8-5 lead.

“At that point I was, like, what the heck,” Patti said. “Then Bryan [Wil­helm] went into the game to pitch and said ‘I got this.’”

Bryan Wil­helm shut out the Cubs over the fi­nal five in­nings, giv­ing up only two hits.

The Roy­als cut their deficit to one run in the top of the sixth. A hit bat­ter and a sin­gle put run­ners at first and third. An er­ror on a steal of sec­ond base brought home one run, and the sec­ond scored on Andy Corkran’s sac­ri­fice bunt.

The Roy­als tied the game in the seventh in­ning on an RBI sin­gle by Paul Cere­belli, then scored three runs in the top of the eighth.

A walk, er­ror, and an in­field sin­gle loaded the bases with one out. Af­ter one run scored on a fielder’s choice, Corkran lined a dou­ble to left field to give the Roy­als an 11-8 lead.

Two dou­ble plays, in the fifth and eighth in­nings, helped the Roy­als hold back the Cubs.

“What’s frus­trat­ing is that, in the seventh in­ning we kind of beat our­selves,” Cun­diff said. “We made a cou­ple of er­rors, and when they got ahead, they didn’t look back.”

One of the orig­i­nal teams when the league started in 2010, the Cubs al­most didn’t make it back this sea­son.

“We al­most folded,” Cun­diff said. “We strug­gled last year get­ting enough guys to play. I picked up a few more play­ers, and we had a meet­ing at my house back in Fe­bru­ary.

“We de­cided to keep play­ing, but we went into the sea­son just want­ing to have fun, win or lose.”

This was the first cham­pi­onship game in league his­tory that didn’t in­volve ei­ther the Dodgers or the Pi­rates (the Pi­rates folded af­ter last sea­son).

“We’re com­ing back next year, ab­so­lutely,” Cun­diff said. “We fell just a lit­tle short, but now we know what we need to do.”

The Roy­als are also filled with new re­solve.

“The five of us who’ve been with this team from the be­gin­ning, we were just a bunch of Here­ford guys who wanted to keep play­ing base­ball,” Patti said. “We’ll be back next year to de­fend our ti­tle.”

Chris Mirabile of the Cubs pre­pares to tag out Lloyd Fox of the Roy­als dur­ing the Over-40 League cham­pi­onship game on Sun­day.

Brian Ci­morelli of the Roy­als slides un­der the tag of Cubs catcher Doug Ray for what turned out to be the win­ning run in the Over-40 Base­ball League ti­tle game.

Roy­als pitcher Bryan Wil­helm pre­pares to de­liver a pitch dur­ing the Over-40 League cham­pi­onship game. With his team trail­ing 8-5, Wil­helm shut out the Cubs on two hits over the fi­nal five in­nings as the Roy­als ral­lied for an 11-8 win.

PHO­TOS BY BILL GATES

Mem­bers of the Roy­als drink Dale’s Ale from the cham­pi­onship tro­phy af­ter beat­ing the Cubs 11-8 for the East­ern Baltimore County Over-40 Base­ball League ti­tle.

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