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Fiorello's Heroics Propel Royals to Dramatic Victory: A Tale of Hustle and Determination

By Larry Lachman, 03/13/24, 3:45AM CDT


Sunday's doubleheader was a tale of two games for the Royals.  After the boys in Royal blue dropped a hard-fought opener to Burk’s Brewers 9 – 7, David Fiorello emerged as the hero in the Royals’ dramatic victory over Anthony’s Orioles, 9 – 8, single-handedly putting the team on his back to secure a crucial split in the doubleheader.  While the box score cannot fully capture his impact, it was Fiorello's exceptional hustle and tenacity, showcased in the third inning, that proved to be the game-changer.

Already leading the Orioles 4 – 1, the Royals staged a remarkable third-inning rally, scoring four runs after two outs had been recorded.  With runners on first and third, Tommy Apligian's clutch RBI single was followed by Fiorello's RBI hit extending the lead to 6 – 1.  However, it was Fiorello's relentless determination on the base paths that truly ignited the Royals’ spirit.  Andy Wetterlin drew an important bases on balls that moved Fiorello to second base and loaded the bases, bringing Adwild Perez to the plate.   Perez hit a slow chopper toward left field that the third baseman fielded about 10 feet off the bag.  There was no way the Orioles' third baseman was going to throw out the speedy Perez and, besides, a force out at third was the path of least resistance to end the inning.  As the third baseman fielded the ball and ran toward third, most runners would have conceded the out.  Not Fiorello.  His lightning-fast sprint to third base and subsequent slide beat the third baseman to the bag by a hair's breadth.  His hustle not only kept the inning alive but allowed Apligian to score from third to make it 7 – 1.  Aaron Bartelson then kept the line moving with another clutch RBI single scoring Fiorello.  8 – 1.  Those two runs – sparked by Fiorello's relentless hustle – proved to be the difference in the game as the Royals prevailed in the one-run victory.

But Fiorello's contributions didn't end there.  His defensive prowess was equally instrumental, as Fiorello was in the middle of a well-executed pickle play alongside teammates, Kyzer Hoover, Scott Greenberg, and Bartleson, that thwarted the Orioles’ first inning rally and preserved the Royals’ lead.  After the Royals pounced for four runs in the top of the first, Chase Chambers drew a bases on balls to start the game.  Former Royal, Ari Loiben, then singled to right field.  As Loiben attempted to stretch his single into a double, Perez charged the ball and fired a strike to Hoover at second base, who started the pickle play as Loiben headed back to first.  Credit to Loiben for his valiant effort to stay alive in what felt like an eternity of a pickle play, allowing Chambers to circle the bases and score, but that would be it for the Orioles in the first.

Despite trailing 8 – 1, the Orioles displayed tremendous character and heart as they chipped away for seven runs in the next four innings.  Cameron Dill's two thunderous 2-run blasts – in his TSSL sub debut – sparked the comeback effort in the third and fifth innings. 

But in the end, it was Wetterlin's discipline and defensive brilliance that slammed the door.

Displaying tremendous plate discipline, Wetterlin walked to lead off the sixth – his second walk of the game – and eventually scored on Chris Peterson’s sacrifice fly to give the Royals a much-needed insurance run, making it 9 – 6.  That insurance run proved to be pivotal as the Orioles rallied for two runs in the bottom of the frame.  With two outs and the tying run on third base, the winning run on first, and the leadoff batter at the plate, Greenberg induced the batter to hit a bullet toward Wetterlin.  With quick reflexes, Wetterlin knocked the ball down, stayed with it, and then made a hurried, yet accurate throw to second base to force the runner from first and end the thrilling game.

Game 2 Offensive Stars

David Fiorello  2 – 3, 1 Run, 2 RBI, 2B
Tommy Apligian  2 – 3, 2 Runs, 2 RBI
Ronel Martinez  2 – 4, 2 Runs 
Andy Wetterlin  2 BB, 1 Run, 1 RBI, SF
Adwild Perez  1 – 2, 1 RBI, BB
Drew Waggoner  1 – 2, 1 Run, BB
Aaron Bartelson  1 – 2, 1 RBI, BB

In the opener, Brewers’ wily ace, Jon Banta outdueled Greenberg in a low-scoring affair on field 3.  With the 8:00 am sun barely peeking above the horizon midway behind the third base line, blinding patches of light blanketed the right side of the infield and outfield.  The Brewers were able to capitalize on the conditions more so than the Royals were able to.  But also, credit to Banta for keeping the Royals' bats in an early morning slumber.  The crafty veteran did a good job of moving the ball around, changing elevation, and preventing the Royals from squaring up many barreled shots.  Not until game 2 did their offense finally awaken from Banta's clever mix of location and deception.

Fiorello and Bartleson led the way offensively, with each reaching base safely twice on a pair of hits.  Meanwhile, Fiorello and Larry Lachman accounted for four of the team's seven runs driven in, delivering two RBIs apiece.

Fiorello's Heroics Propel Royals to Dramatic Victory:  A Tale of Hustle and Determination