By PATRICK SLACK
With Rush City posing a serious threat in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s Sub-Section 5A East semifinals in Pierz, Royalton senior starting pitcher Matt Silbernick stood tall.
With runners at the corners and only one out, the 6-foot-5 Silbernick snared a searing liner that appeared heading for center field for a base hit, saving a 3-1 win to carry Royalton into the sub-section finals.
Once there, the Royals ran into a buzz saw in the form of top-seeded Hinckley-Finlayson, falling 13-3 in six innings to drop into the elimination portion of the section tournament.
Sixth-seeded Royalton opened the playoffs in a rematch of last season’s sub-section finals in a showdown at third-seeded Braham, May 24, toppling the Bombers 4-2 on a one-hit, 10-strikeout gem by Silbernick.
Junior Cade Stang slugged three extra-base hits and junior Jordon Smieja went 2-for-4 with two RBIs to provide Silbernick with the run support he needed.
The Royals then advanced to take on second-seeded Rush City, upending the Tigers 3-1 on another gutsy complete-game effort by Silbernick, who racked up nine strikeouts without allowing an earned run.
Eighth-grader Nathan Psyck stepped up with a double and a run scored, with senior Lucas Snyder and sophomore Brady Moulzolf also hitting doubles.
Royalton’s bid for a repeat sub-section title hit a snag against Hinckley-Finlayson, as the Royals couldn’t dodge the Jaguars’ red-hot bats.
Moulzolf went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs to lead the Royals, while Stang scored and drove in a run and Silbernick doubled and knocked in two.
Recaps from the remainder of Royalton’s section tournament games can be found at www.mcrecord.com and in next week’s Record.