The sun was beating down on Spirit Park on Sunday, May 7, as the Royals faced off against two opponents in a tale of two games. Playing both of their games on field 3 with a stiff 14-mph crosswind from left to right, the Royals benefited from the windy conditions in game 1, defeating Prims’ Padres 11 – 5, and were at a disbenefit, losing game 2 to Casper’s Storm 11 – 10.
The star of the doubleheader was Darius Wu, who hit for the combined cycle, and was a force to be reckoned with, delivering clutch hit after clutch hit, going an impressive 6 – 8 with one single, two doubles, two triples, a grand slam, and driving in a remarkable eight runs.
But the Royals’ triumph was not without its challenges. In the opener, in a rare statistical oddity, plate discipline was on full display as the Royals won a game in which they had more walks (10) than hits (seven) in their victory over the John Burke-less Padres. Royals’ pitcher, Brad Parr overcame the elements and the powerful Padres’ lineup, scattering 12 singles and one triple over seven innings.
The Royals got off to a strong start, with back-to-back bases on balls to Charles Lachman and Brad Stanford preceding Wu’s first double as the Royals jumped out to a 3 – 1 lead in the first. The Royals tacked on one more in the second when three of the last four batters walked with one out, and one scored when Lachman drew his second consecutive walk, but the Padres pulled a Houdini act and escaped the inning only down 4 – 1.
This seemed to energize the Padres because – from that point on – the Padres fought back, recording three shutout innings as they retired nine consecutive Royals. Meanwhile, the Padres clawed their way back into the game, scoring two runs in the fourth and two more in the sixth. By the top of the seventh, the game was tied 5 – 5, and tensions were running high.
In a dramatic turn of events, the Royals rallied in the top of the seventh, parlaying three hits – a single, a double, and a triple – three walks, and one error into a 6-run uprising. Once again, the Padres tempted fate, as the bottom of the Royals’ order coaxed three walks, intermingled with one single. Tony Lowery’s second walk of the game drove in the tie-breaking run and kept the bases loaded with nobody out. An error and a sac fly produced two more runs, and with one out, Stanford’s 2-run double made it 10 – 5. Wu’s triple scored Stanford to complete the scoring, putting the game firmly in the Royals’ hands.
Game 1 Offensive Stars
Darius Wu 3 – 4, 1 Run, 2 RBI, 2B, 3B
Brad Stanford 2 – 3, 3 Runs, 2 RBI, BB, 2B
Charles Lachman 2 BB, 1 Run, 2 RBI
Tony Lowery 2 BB, 1 Run, 1 RBI, GWRBI
Tae Lee 1 – 2, 2 Runs, BB
Unfortunately, the nightcap did not go as well for the Royals against the Storm. The Royals faced an uphill battle the entire game, but even in defeat, the Royals showed grit and determination, refusing to give up until the very end.
The Storm accomplished something that no other opponent has been able to do this season; holding the Royals’ offensive machine scoreless in the first inning. Mind you, the Royals helped the Storm out as two different Royals’ baserunners were thrown out at second base in the first and third innings. These proved to be pivotal plays, as the next Royals’ batter – in each inning – followed with a base hit that would have driven them in. Credit the Storm for making two perfect relay throws, and the stiff crosswind, which played havoc with the ball on several occasions with the Royals on defense.
Despite these early setbacks, the Royals refused to give up, and finally got their footing in the bottom of the third, thanks to the heroics of Wu when he delivered a grand slam that evened up the score at 6 – 6, bringing the Royals back to life.
The Storm quickly answered back, scoring three runs in the fourth – keyed by Noah Ballard’s 2-run triple – and two in the fifth to take a commanding 11 – 6 lead. But once again, the Royals refused to go quietly into the night. Wu and Tim Kaminski teamed up on back-to-back 2-run doubles in the bottom of the fifth, narrowing the gap to just one run at 10 – 11.
The Royals mounted a serious threat in the bottom of the seventh inning, but a diving stop by Ryan Lewin of a sharp grounder headed toward center field resulted in a force out rather than runners at first and third and nobody out. Despite their valiant efforts, the Royals were unable to push across the tying run, falling to the Storm by that slim one-run margin. The Storm's ace, Kevin Gandy, proved to be too much for the Royals, pitching two scoreless innings to seal the victory.
Game 2 Offensive Stars
Darius Wu 3 – 4, 2 Runs, 6 RBI, 2B, 3B, GS HR
Charles Lachman 3 – 3, 2 Runs, BB
Tim Kaminski 2– 4, 2 RBI, (2) 2B
Brad Parr 1 – 2, 1 Run, BB
Larry Lachman 2 BB, 2 Runs
Wu Hits for the Cycle as Royals Settle for Doubleheader Split