Royals strike first, fall behind late in first round

May 9—Community Christian was confident it would lose the pre-game coin flip, it always does according to head coach Mike Hinckley, but that was exactly what it wanted.

Coming into the first round of the 3A state tournament, the Royals wanted to strike first. By losing the coin toss, the Royals were the visiting team against top-ranked Salina and would be the first to bat.

On the first at-bat of the game, Eli Williams hit a ground ball up the middle of the field for a single. Two outs later, James Peterson singled on a line drive into left field.

Williams came sliding into home plate to score the first run of the game. The Royals did exactly what they set out to do in the first inning, but couldn't maintain that momentum for all seven.

"They're used to being the visiting team in these situations and they came out, struck first and struck early and I'm super proud of them to be coming out of gates swinging like that," Hinckley said.

Despite a heroic effort on the mound from Williams, Salina's high-powered offense eventually found an edge. Salina starting pitcher Connor Johnson, an Oral Roberts commit, held the Royals hitless and scoreless over the next four innings.

Community Christian's special season came to an end in a 3-1 loss at Oklahoma Christian University on Thursday.

The Wildcats will move on to face Perry in the semifinals on Friday.

Williams and the Royals' defense kept Salina off the board for nearly four innings. With two outs down in the bottom of the fourth, Jyce Glass laced a line drive into right field and tied the game with a triple.

An error allowed another run to score, but Williams struck out the final batter to end the inning. In the fifth the Wildcats had three hits including two doubles to put another run across.

Hinckley never lost confidence in his starter and Williams went on to put the Wildcats down in order in the sixth.

He struck out nine total batters and allowed eight hits and two earned runs with only one walk. Williams also had one of the Royals' three hits.

"The kid is a competitor," Hinckley said. "He's very God-gifted and will, Lord willing, go on and hopefully be able to play past high school and be able to watch him. But he loves to play, he loves to compete and he does a great job."

Peterson went 1-3 with an RBI single and Easton Rogers got the other hit.

"We competed our tails off, I'm proud of these boys. I love 'em," Hinckley said. "At the end of the day, of course we wanted to win the state title, we wanted to win, but the win is at the cross. That's what we've been telling them."

Community Christian closed out its season 24-9 overall.