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Royals, Two Outs Away from Sweep, Settle for Doubleheader Split

By Larry Lachman, 03/28/24, 12:00AM CDT


A common theme this season has been the meteorological conditions under which the Royals have played their games.  Sunday was no exception as the Royals battled not only Buhrow’s Braves and Eusay’s Phillies on this day, but also contrasting weather conditions.   In a gripping showdown, the Royals defeated the Braves 8 – 6 on field 4, with both teams battling a fierce 16-mph wind blowing directly in from center field.  One hour later, the Royals traveled to field 2, and encountered a completely different challenge – gale force 21-mph winds blowing out to right field – as they faced off against the Phillies.

Despite staking themselves to a seemingly commanding 15 – 11 lead heading to the bottom of the fifth inning, the Royals were two outs away from a doubleheader sweep, before the Phillies staged a remarkable comeback, driven by the bottom of their lineup.  The game ended with a dramatic 16 – 15, come-from-behind victory for the Phillies.

Ronel Martinez’ 3-run tape measure shot, Tommy Apligian’s 2-run double, and a pair of sacrifice flies from Aaron Bartelson and Larry Lachman enabled the Royals to score seven runs in their two previous at-bats to overtake the Phillies.  The highlight of the game – likely the entire doubleheader – was the heroic display of will, hustle, desire, and heart by Martinez, who had a breakout performance, accounting for a staggering 11 of the 23 Royal runs scored on Sunday.

Against the Phillies, Martinez walked in the first, doubled and scored in the third, and then came the fifth.  Tied at 11, back-to-back singles by Scott Greenberg and Kyzer Hoover began the top of the fifth, bringing Martinez to the plate.  On a 2 – 1 pitch, Martinez unleashed a violent uppercut of a swing that launched a mammoth 3-run homerun over the right field fence.  The ball was hit so hard that it looked like it had been shot out of a rocket launcher.

The Royals tacked on one more and led 15 – 11, going to the bottom of the fifth.  However, the Phillies displayed remarkable resilience.  Fueled by their bottom-of-the-lineup hitters, they staged a dramatic comeback, scoring five runs.  Tied at 15, Doc Watson’s walk-off single with two outs and the bases loaded sealed the Phillies thrilling victory.  Softball is a game of inches and its fickle nature was on full display, as the Phillies hit three balls in the inning – in the infield – that just glanced off the tip of three different Royals’ gloves for game-extending hits.

Martinez, Apligian, and David Fiorello drove in three runs apiece, with Fiorello’s all coming on one swing of the bat.  After the Phillies jumped out to a 5 – 2 lead in the bottom of the first, Fiorello’s 3-run homerun fueled the Royals’ 5-run second inning, his third homerun of the season.  For the Phillies, HOF JJ Eusay and Wilfredo Nieves went yard, with Eusay dialing long distance twice.

Game 2 Offensive Stars

Ronel Martinez  2 – 2, 2 Runs, 3 RBI, BB, 2B, 3-run HR
David Fiorello  2 – 3, 2 Runs, 3 RBI, 3B, 3-run HR
Tommy Apligian  2 – 3, 1 Run, 3 RBI, 2B
Scott Greenberg  2 – 3, 1 Run, 1 RBI, 2B
Ryan Greenberg  2 – 3, 1 Run, 1 RBI
Aaron Bartelson  1 – 2, 2 Runs, 1 RBI, BB
Larry Lachman  1 – 1, 1 Run, 2 RBI, SF

In the opener against the Braves, despite the challenging winds, the Royals had no problem getting base hits, as they pounded out 18, but timely hits were hard to come by.  Once again, Martinez proved instrumental, driving in five crucial runs.  His bases clearing, 3-run double ignited the Royals’ 4-run first inning.  Later, with the Royals trailing 5 – 4 in the bottom of the sixth, it was Martinez’ clutch, 2-run triple that put the Royals back on top and proved to be the game-winning RBI as the Royals went on to defeat the Braves, 8 – 6.

Greenberg turned in a master class on the mound, outdueling Braves’ ace, HOF John Miller, deftly navigating the relentless winds, scattering eight hits with zero walks across seven innings in the victory against the formidable Braves’ lineup.  His masterful pitching performance was backed by an airtight Royals’ defense that executed two flawless double plays, 6–3 and 4–6–3, snuffing out Braves’ threats in the second and fifth innings, with shortstop, Hoover turning both.

Game 1 Offensive Stars

Ronel Martinez  2 – 3, 1 Run, 5 RBI, 2B, 3B, GWRBI
Scott Greenberg  2 – 3, 2 Runs, 1 RBI
Kyzer Hoover  2 – 3, 2 Runs
Drew Waggoner  2 – 3, 1 Run, 2B
Ryan Greenberg  2 – 3, 1 Run, 2B
Andy Wetterlin  2 – 3, 1 RBI
Tommy Apligian  2 – 3
Larry Lachman  1 – 3, 1 RBI

While a sweep ultimately slipped through their grasp, the Royals’ relentless perseverance and refusal to be beaten by the elements shone through on this day, the day that Martinez left an indelible mark on the field with his remarkable display of talent and determination.