IT WAS A WELCOMED sight when sophomore
walked from the parking lot into the visitors' dugout on Wednesday just before the start of the Group 3 semifinal game between Highland and visiting Shawnee.
Royds made his way toward his Shawnee teammates, proudly wearing his No. 10 Renegades jersey, along with a pair of dark sunglasses.
The shades were hiding a nasty cut under his swollen, black-and-blue right eye. The injury will keep Royds, a starter for coach Brian Anderson, out for the rest of the season.
"He was out on Sunday playing baseball with some guys that he plays summer ball with," Anderson said. "He went back to catch a flyball and ran full force into a fence. His dad called and I got over to the emergency room right away to make sure he was OK. It could have been worse. He broke the orbital socket underneath the eye, which is pretty bad. But they thought they were going to have to put a plate there to help the healing process. It might be too early to tell, but for now, they don't have to do that."
Though not on the field, Royds was helpful as the Renegades advanced with a 5-0 win. He kept teammates on their toes with words of advice and encouragement, and certainly did a good job of ribbing his opponents.
Anderson said Royds will be out of action for about 6 weeks.
"Here's a kid who is out on his own trying to make himself a better baseball player and something like this happens," Anderson said. "It was good to see him back here today, cheering on his teammates and being a part of a win."
We incorrectly wrote in yesterday's paper that Shawnee's John Montemurro was the school's single season home-run recordholder. That honor belongs to junior first baseman Eric Sellitto, who has 11 homers this season.
We apologize for the error.
Here's hoping the rain holds off and the South Jersey champs can be crowned in Groups 1 through 4. Here's a little look into what might happen. All games begin at 4 p.m.:
* Group 1: No. 2 Gateway (16-5) at No. 1 Pitman (16-6):
The top-seeded Panthers erased a 5-0 deficit in coming back for a 7-6 win over Pennsville in the semifinal on Wednesday. Pitman is a fundamentally solid team that makes few mistakes and is used to the big-game atmosphere. It will also help that ace Rob Cressman should be ready to go for coach Gene Reid.
Should it be Cressman, he will be facing Gateway fireballer Dom DePasquale, whom coach Frank Alloway strategically held back in Tuesday's 6-4 semi win over Glassboro.
Pitman did beat DePasquale earlier this season, in a 3-2 win that featured eight errors in the game. This will probably be another low-scoring game; we'll give the edge to Pitman, 4-2.
* Group 2: No. 4 Cinnaminson (19-5) at No. 3 Haddon Township (23-4):
If you look at Township's schedule, you'll notice it is playing its fourth game in 4 days. You would think that might not be a good thing, but when you're playing as well as the Hawks, you can't get enough.
Coach Dave Dale's squad is among the best in the area right now, having won 15 of 16. Also, in their last eight wins, Township has scored an incredible 14.5 runs a game.
Cinnaminson has posted seven straight wins, including Tuesday's impressive, 10-3 drubbing at top-seeded Haddonfield.
Still, the Hawks have too much firepower and very good pitching. Call it 9-3, Township.
* Group 3: No. 7 Shawnee (16-6) at No. 5 Clearview (12-5):
Clearview threw ace Shane Taylor in Wednseday's 11-2 win over Winslow Township, so he will be limited today. Either sophomore George Eisenhart or senior Matt Spillman should get the call.
No matter who it is, they will be facing one of the area's best in Anthony Montefusco. The senior threw a perfect seventh inning in Wednesday's semi win over Highland, which turned out to be a perfect bullpen session to get him ready for today. Call it Shawnee, 5-1.
* Group 4: No. 8 Cherokee (19-5) at No. 3 Toms River North (20-4):
It's not a stretch to say the Chiefs are the best team in the area right now, and they'll need all of that in facing powerful T.R. North, one of the premier teams in the state. Maybe Cherokee can get some confidence in the fact that it beat Toms River East last week. The big bats of Eric Barbieri, Nick Allen and Dan Smith will have to stay red-hot if the Chiefs hope to claim the title for coach Marc Petragnani.
We'll go with the upset and say, Cherokee, 11-9, in a thriller. *