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Championship Reflections: Royals Get Revenge With D-IV State Title Victory Over Danville

  • South Royalton celebrates the Division 4 State High School Baseball Championship at the University of Vermont's Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt., on Friday, June 14, 2013. (Valley News - Andy Duback)

    South Royalton celebrates the Division 4 State High School Baseball Championship at the University of Vermont's Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt., on Friday, June 14, 2013. (Valley News - Andy Duback)

  • South Royalton celebrates the Division 4 State High School Baseball Championship at the University of Vermont's Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt., on Friday, June 14, 2013. (Valley News - Andy Duback)

    South Royalton celebrates the Division 4 State High School Baseball Championship at the University of Vermont's Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt., on Friday, June 14, 2013. (Valley News - Andy Duback)

  • Rochester at South Royalton baseball semifinal in South Royalton, Vt., on June 11, 2013. South Royalton won, 6-0. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Rochester at South Royalton baseball semifinal in South Royalton, Vt., on June 11, 2013. South Royalton won, 6-0. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

  • South Royalton celebrates the Division 4 State High School Baseball Championship at the University of Vermont's Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt., on Friday, June 14, 2013. (Valley News - Andy Duback)
  • South Royalton celebrates the Division 4 State High School Baseball Championship at the University of Vermont's Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt., on Friday, June 14, 2013. (Valley News - Andy Duback)
  • Rochester at South Royalton baseball semifinal in South Royalton, Vt., on June 11, 2013. South Royalton won, 6-0. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

Looking across the diamond at the opposing dugout, the South Royalton baseball team knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task wresting the title away from Danville. After all, the Royals had lost to Danville in the semifinal round of the Vermont Division IV playoffs in each of the past two seasons. But after playing a schedule loaded with Division II and III opponents, the Royals were anything but concerned.

In fact, they were downright confident.

And why not? Riding the crest of a 14-game winning streak, and putting the ball in the hand of ace Nate Moore, the top-seeded Royals were well stocked for a title run.

As he noted before the season, South Royalton coach Mike Ballou assessed his team’s chances. “We have a great bunch of boys who work hard, so our goal is to be playing good baseball by playoff time,” he said.

“From there, you never know what could happen.”

What happened was that after a 2-1 loss to Randolph in the third game of the season, the Royals were unbeatable, running off 12 straight regular season victories. And they did it in dominant fashion — even while half their schedule was against larger schools.

During the regular season run, the Royals allowed only four runs or more six times all year. During span of three games in five days, SoRo pitchers threw three straight shutouts. In all, nine times during the regular season, Royalton pitching allowed three runs or less.

And in the playoffs, they were even stingier. Or rather, Nate Moore was even stingier.

In three games, and three victories — totalling 19 2∕3 innings, Moore allowed no earned runs while striking out 21 and giving up just 13 base hits.

“He was a thrower who’s now becoming a real pitcher by setting batter’s up,” said Ballou, who knows a thing or two about pitching after a four-year career in the University of Maine’s starting rotation during its 1980s powerhouse years. “He has confidence that if they do hit him, we’re going to make all the plays.

“We’ve got some real good defense behind him.”

With the No. 1 ranking in the tourney, the Royals were seeded into the quarterfinals, where they dispatched Arlington, 9-0. That was followed up with a 6-0 decision over Rochester in the semis where the Royals broke the game open in the third inning — batting around while scoring five times.

That brought a showdown with No. 3 Danville, the team that had spoiled South Royalton’s title dreams the past two seasons. But 2013 was the lucky number for the Royals. Earlier in the year, SoRo took a 3-1 decision over Danville. It must have felt good to Ballou’s gang, because they went out and duplicated that feat in the title game, easing out a 3-1 championship score.

Capping a 17-1 season, the title was the first since 2005 for South Royalton, bringing its playoff record to 57-27 (.679) in Divisions III and IV combined, with seven state championships.

“To do it against repeat champions that knocked us out, it just means a lot more,” said SoRo team captain David Ballou.

“Hats off to (Danville) for making it here three straight years, but it was our turn.”