The Royals ran their win streak to four games to open the 2023 season as they swept Alexander’s Woodpeckers 11 – 6 and Prim’s Padres 13 – 10 on Sunday morning at Spirit Park. Playing both of their games on field 1 with a gentle 8 – 10 mph breeze blowing out to left field, Darius Wu and Jon Kilburn blasted two homeruns each and Brad Parr went yard as well, as all three men accounted for 20 of the 24 Royals’ runs scored in the twin bill.
In the opener, Wu put the Royals on his back, blasting two homeruns and robbing a potential 2-run homerun in the bottom of the second to stun the Woodpeckers. The Royals started off strong as Charles Lachman and Tommy Apligian singled to begin the game and scored as Wu launched a rocket that landed roughly 40-feet beyond the left centerfield fence.
After holding the Woodpeckers scoreless in the bottom of the first, Liam Kilburn singled to lead off the second and scored on Parr’s dinger to make it 5 – 0.
The Woodpeckers mounted a threat in the bottom of the second when Peter Hogan stepped to the plate with a runner on first. Hogan drove a 2 – 2 pitch that – for all intents and purposes – had cleared the left centerfield fence for a 2-run jimmy jack. Wu went back to the fence and waited, leaping high in the air and reaching over top of the fence to snatch the ball and bring it back into the field of play.
The Royals offensive machine didn’t let up as Jon’s 2-run double keyed the top of the third.
The Woodpeckers pushed across one run in the bottom of the third and two more in the fourth – when Hogan hit a 2-run homerun over the left field fence, avoiding Wu altogether – to draw within six runs, 9 – 3.
In the top of the fifth, Charles singled and Wu put the game out of reach with his second homerun of the game. While Wu’s first homerun looked like it had been shot out of a rocket launcher, this one was a towering shot that high-fived the clouds, caught the jet stream, and just kept on going as the Woodpecker’s left center fielder, Heath Jones – who appeared to have a beat on it, tracking it to the fence – just ran out of room, watching Wu’s blast sail past him and land completely outside of Spirit Park. 11 – 3.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Woodpeckers loaded the bases with one out when Parr fielded a sharp grounder back to the mound. The ball was hit so hard that the runner on first hesitated and was unsure whether Parr had caught the ball or short-hopped it. Parr threw the ball to Jon at first, who was then able to chase down the confused Woodpecker for the unconventional 1–3 double play to end the threat and the inning.
The Woodpeckers mounted a late rally in the bottom of the sixth as time expired, but – by then – were unable to close the gap.
Game 1 Offensive Stars
Darius Wu 2 – 3, 3 Runs, 5 RBI, 2 HR, GWRBI
Brad Parr 2 – 2, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, HR
Charles Lachman 2 – 3, 2 Runs
Jon Kilburn 1 – 3, 2 RBI, 2B
In the nightcap, the Royals scored four runs with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning for an electrifying, come-from-behind victory over the Padres. In a game where the lead changed hands four times – the Royals and Padres played a classic that will live on in perpetuity in ESPN highlight reels.
The Padres exploded for five runs in the top of the first thanks to Jon Simonson’s bases-clearing triple to left field with two outs. With the venerable John Burke on the mound, the Royals knew they had their work cut out for them.
Through four games this season, the Royals have proven one thing for sure: no first inning lead is safe against them. Back-to-back doubles by Apligian and Wu and a single by Tim Kaminski made it 5 – 2, and brought Jon to the plate – who promptly launched a missile over the left centerfield fence to make it 5 – 4.
After both teams went scoreless in the second, the Padres plated two in the top of the third to extend their lead to 7 – 4. Charles singled with one out in the bottom of the frame, and then back-to-back-to-back doubles by Apligian, Wu, and Kaminski knotted the game at 7 – 7.
The bottom of the Royals order – Tae Lee and Larry Lachman – came through to push across two runs in the bottom of the fourth as the Royals took their first lead of the game, 9 – 7.
However, the Royals' 2-run lead was short-lived. In the fifth, Donald Prim hit a 2 – 1 pitch toward the left centerfield fence, where Wu leapt, and the ball just grazed off the top of his glove for a 3-run homer that put the Padres back in front 10 – 9.
The Royals came up to bat in the bottom of the fifth, down by one run, and just over seven minutes left on the clock. With one out, Apligian doubled – his third double of the game – and was still there one out later as Kaminski stepped into the batter’s box. Just as he did last week, Kaminski rifled a clutch, 2-strike, 2-out single to left to score Apligian and tie the game again. Brad Stanford’s single kept the 2-out rally going and moved Kaminski to second, bringing Jon to the plate. Burke knew he had to pitch carefully to the Royals’ slugger, and in an excellent display of situational hitting and patience, the Royals’ effervescent first baseman crushed a 3 – 2 pitch over the left centerfield fence that traveled 427 feet and left the bat at 105 mph. The ball was hit so hard that it had not yet reached the top of its trajectory when it cleared the fence. 13 - 10. The Royals’ dugout went nuts the second the ball left Jon’s bat, and he received a hero’s welcome and was mobbed by his teammates upon his return to the dugout.
But the Royals weren’t done. Just as he had done in the second and fourth innings – after Royals’ rallies – Parr pitched another important shutdown inning in the sixth to secure the Royals’ thrilling come-from-behind victory.
In 11 innings across two games, the Royals’ consistent, offensive machine scored in all but two of them, and pounded out 13 extra-base hits – eight doubles and five fence homeruns – en route to the impressive doubleheader sweep.
Game 2 Offensive Stars
Jon Kilburn 2 – 3, 2 Runs, 5 RBI, 2 HR, GWRBI
Tommy Apligian 3 – 3, 3 Runs, 3 2B
Tim Kaminski 3 – 3, 1 Run, 2 RBI, 2B
Darius Wu 2 – 3, 2 Runs, 3 RBI, 2 2B
Liam Kilburn 2 – 3, 1 Run, 2B
Wu and Kilburn Belt Four Homeruns to Lead Royals in Doubleheader Sweep