Rilling, Royals end Reds' Cinderella run
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
It was a topic several people talked about and the numbers certainly backed it up.
As Thursday's Brewton-East Brewton Age 11-12 Tournament championship game progressed, Royals pitcher Corey Rilling got better and better.
Rilling was nicked for three hits and a first inning run, but he gave up just one more hit the rest of the way to lead his team past the Reds 5-1.
Only three additional batters reached safely against Rilling, who struck out nine, after the first inning and two of those were on errors. After the first inning, the Reds never got another hit against Rilling until Robert Knowles' infield single with one out in the sixth inning.
The win by the Royals (11-6) ended quite a Cinderella run by the Reds (7-11) in the tournament. The fifth-seeded Reds had to beat the Marlins in a preliminary round game the previous week just to qualify for the tournament. The Reds then knocked off the East Brewton Yankees in Monday's quarterfinals and the top-seeded Brewton Indians in Tuesday's semifinal round.
The three hits the Reds had against Rilling in the first inning came in succession, as singles by Bradley Brown and Robert Knowles set up an RBI single by Cody Swain.
Reds starting pitcher Cody Swain's performance followed a similar pattern of the one Rilling had. The Royals touched Swain for a single, a double and three walks in the first inning although he surrendered only two runs out of that jam.
Ryland Dixon doubled and scored on a single by Rilling to tie the game. Rilling later scored on a passed ball to put the Royals up 2-1. It was a lead they would not relinquish.
That turned out to be the only runs Swain gave up in his three-inning stint. The Royals missed a good chance to open up some breathing room in the bottom of the third inning. That potential rally fizzled when both Stephen Warren and James Matthews were tagged out at the plate by Swain on relays from catcher Paul Busby on potential wild pitches.
The Royals were unable to solve Robert Knowles, who relieved Swain and struck out the side in the bottom of the fourth inning to keep the Reds' deficit at just 2-1.
That was not the case in the fifth inning, as the Royals finally got some insurance against the Reds third pitcher of the night, Jon Jones.
With two out Dixon walked and scored on a double by Warren to make it 3-1. Rilling followed with his second RBI single of the game to make it 4-1. After Matthews walked, Rilling scored on a wild pitch that made it 5-1.