The562’s high school baseball and softball coverage for the 2022 season is sponsored by LBUSD Board of Education Member Megan Kerr.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.
Charlie Royle has been ready to leave his mark on the Wilson baseball program ever since he was young.
The Cal Poly commit grew up a normal, athletic kid. According to his parents, Scott and Amy Royle, Charlie played a multitude of sports, ranging from flag football to swim and even participating in junior guards. His young athleticism also allowed him to develop the competitive drive he still has today.
“During recess or playing basketball and wiffle ball in his yard, we were definitely trying to beat each other,” remarked Royle’s long time friend and Poly ace, Ryan Skjonsby.
However, it was Royle’s familial ties to Wilson baseball that brought him to the game.
“Charlie always looked up to his older cousins his whole life,” Charlie’s mom Amy Royle said. “He watched them play at Wilson so that’s when he knew he wanted to play baseball at Wilson too. They wore 44, he wears 44. He wanted to be like them,”
Royle has loved the game of baseball for a long time, and his connection to pitching is long standing too.
“I was never really good at anything else,” Royle said. “I tried the shortstop thing, but pitching was what I was good at. So I stuck with that.”
The senior came into his final year hungry. And everyone knows it.
“Last year, not even making the playoffs, it stung,” Royle said. “This year we wanted to win. We’re trying to change the dynamic of Wilson baseball.”
In the first half of league action, Royle suffered tough losses to the top two teams, Millikan and Lakewood. The Bruins (13-9, 6-2) sit in third place in the Moore League standings.
Wilson faced Long Beach Poly last Friday with Royle benched the majority of the game because of a back injury. Despite this setback, Royle came out of the bullpen and worked through it to earn the save for his team in the seventh inning when the Jackrabbits got dangerously close to coming back. Royle shut down the Jackrabbits for a 4-3 win.
Securing their second win over Long Beach Poly moved the Bruins “one step closer to a playoff berth and/or a league championship,” Wilson coach Andy Hall said. ”We still have to win some games but it feels good to get two out of Poly.”
“He’s definitely a competitor,” Skjonsby said of Royle. “He wants to win. I know he’s a hard worker and I know he’s got confidence. He’s going to give it his all.”
Royle and the entire senior class focused on building their team chemistry this year in order to win.
“I think all of us seniors have worked a lot harder to kind of be more of a team than we have in the past,” Wilson pitcher Jack Eckenrode said.
And for the most part, it’s worked. Building on their chemistry, Charlie says the Bruins are coming into second round looking for redemption.
“It’s his team,” Hall said. “This has been his team for the last four years, and especially the last two years. He’s our heart and soul.”
But the Bruins face a bigger problem: going through the rest of the season without their ace. His back injury has him sidelined from starting.
“I won’t be able to help my team the way I want to,” Royle said.
However, Royle is still looking to be the main support system for his team.
“It’s not a secret that he’s the backbone of our team this year,” Eckenrode added. “His in-game performance gets us going but also in the dugout, he’s always trying to push us into the game.”
Eckenrode was essential in Wilson’s win against Poly last week, pitching 4.1 innings only allowing two runs, two walks, and five strikeouts.
“During school that day, he was getting me ready for (the game),” Eckenrode said of Royle. “He was hyping us up to be ready to step up, he was essentially making us believe in ourselves.”
Although Royle would rather be in the game for his team, he’s ready to help his team any way he can.
“If I have to be more vocal from the bench or come in and get the save like I did against Poly, then I will,” Royle said. “I just want to do what I can for my team.”
Hall faces a tough challenge without his starter and knows the risks.
“His future is in this game after the season is long gone,” Hall said. “But Charlie’s our guy. If he wants to go out there and get it done, who am I to stop him?”
Wilson faces off against Millikan on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. for a classic Bohl Diamond at Blair Field double header, with Poly and Lakewood playing the afternoon game.