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SIMI VALLEY – Fans have come in droves. Umbrellas and folding awnings stood along the first base line and spread out behind the outfield, and the stands were full. It was a sold-out crowd of over 300, according to Royal baseball’s Twitter account.
âSuper competitive and super unreal atmosphere,â said senior Troy May. “It was super tough for like, I guess me, personally, to zone everything and just play the game, treat it like any other game.”
It was new territory for the Highlanders, who played in the CIF SoCal Regional Division IV Finals about a week after winning the Southern Section Division 4 title, the program’s first-ever CIF crown.
Royal was riding high this season, even in the regional finals. But visiting Ridgeview from Bakersfield stifled his momentum with a grand slam to win the game, 5-4, on Saturday afternoon.
âThe season is always going to end,â said coach Dan Maye. âIt’s always a bit difficult to know how we’re going to think about the season. Days go by, these guys will let this one go and remember that we are CIF champions, the first in the history of the school. They have accomplished a lot.
May, who plans to continue walking at Concordia University and had some big hits throughout the playoffs, hit a two-run homer in the first inning to lead to Andrew Hall. Earlier, Hall was stepped and reached second on a passed ball.
âWe jumped on it,â Maye said. “It’s always good when you can jump on an early score from a team and they have to chase us.”
RJ Feigenbaum scored on the ground to score Garrett Westerhouse in the second inning and in the third, Mason Payne hit an RBI single to lead to Luke Piazza. The Highlanders (24-6) led 4-0 and looked confident.
Ridgeview (14-10) blocked the shutout with a single RBI from Ethan Trejo in the fourth quarter. The next round, Jorge Gutierrez pulled off a grand slam to put the Wolf Pack in the lead.
âA total momentum killer,â May said. “Like, our whole fair, silent side. I knew as soon as he swung the bat, it was gone.
The Highlanders came out of the inning with a double play. Matt O’Brien came up to Trevor Hansen on the mound and allowed a hit over the last two innings, an example of the tenacity that has become a theme for Royal.
âAs soon as the playoffs hit, as soon as we lost our last league game, there was just a new fire lit under us,â said May, âbecause after four straight losses we were pissed off. All the practices in the playoffs, we were all in the zone, all working harder than ever just for this game. ”
ââ¦ The returning guys will be back next year for another season. Hopefully they can do what we couldn’t.
Westlake lost 2-0 to Camarillo in the CIF State SoCal Regional Division I final.