It’s rare to find a high school baseball pitcher who can change a game with his sheer presence.
But this season, not only does Long Beach have that type of talent, the local Moore League has three elite senior pitchers in Lakewood’s Anthony Eyanson, Millikan’s Myles Patton and Wilson’s Charlie Royle who are all going to join NCAA Division 1 programs next season.
“We’re watching something special,” said 38-year Lakewood coach Spud O’Neil, who compared the battles between these pitchers to the same type of games from Lakewood’s Shane Watson and Wilson’s Chase De Jong a decade ago. Both of those local legends were taken early in the Major League Baseball draft.
Each member of the talented trio uses different strategies and styles to lead his respective team, and all three will have a chance to make history on Wednesday. It will be the last league doubleheader of the regular season on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field as Lakewood plays Wilson at 3:30 p.m. and Millikan takes on Long Beach Poly at 6:30 p.m.
Lakewood’s Anthony Eyanson has posted the most impressive statistics this season. The athletic right-hander is currently riding a 28-game scoreless innings streak that rivals the longest in league history. At one point last week, he had 12.1 consecutive hitless innings in league play that included an epic seven hitless innings against Patton and Millikan.
“When he’s on the mound, the whole vibe just changes,” Lakewood first baseman Jared Stephenson said of Eyanson. “Everybody’s confidence goes up once he’s on the mound. As you can see, it’s just lights out. We don’t really want anyone else on the mound pitching for us.”
Eyanson, who is going to play at UC San Diego next year, is also contributing offensively for Lakewood. He’s been involved in a run scored against every team in the league. That raw athleticism could get some MLB attention.
O’Neil said Eyanson’s durability comes from his hard work before games.
“He’s the best athlete in the league and he’s the hardest working guy on this team for the last few years,” O’Neil said. “He’s so strong at the end of games because he does things on his own. He’s amazing. Just amazing.”
“It’s a great feeling knowing that all your pitches are clicking when you’re on the mound,” Eyanson said. “And just knowing that you’re in control of the game is a great feeling as a pitcher, because it gives you confidence for your team to hit.”
Meanwhile, for Millikan, Myles Patton has been the Rams’ stalwart ace for two seasons. Last year, the slender lefty helped Millikan win its first CIF-SS championship since 1992 while giving up just two runs and striking out 31 batters in 20 postseason innings. This year, he’s pitched all of the big games and helped Millikan sit in first place in the league for most of the season.
“We’re lucky to have him,” Millikan senior Humberto Tene said of Patton. “He puts 100 percent in all of the time. Without him, I don’t think we would be here.”
Patton is the type of deliberate pitcher who takes a deep breath before every delivery and barely shows any emotion on the mound. He thinks that a calming presence helps his team perform in big games.
“We’ve battled through a lot of games and had huge victories just like this,” Patton said after the recent win over Lakewood. “It’s nothing new for us. We keep our composure and never give up. We don’t get down on ourselves. We always know we have a chance to win it.”
Patton won’t be leaving after this season because he’s signed with the Long Beach State Dirtbags, so his comfort level on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field will pay dividends in the future.
“He’s a very humble kid; he goes about his business the right way,” Millikan coach Ron Keester said. “He wants to prove it every time. He wants to go to Long Beach State and go further so he’s out there to get better.”
Of all three elite local pitchers, Wilson’s Charlie Royle has gone through the most physical challenges this season. The big right-hander, who is going to Cal Poly, suffered a back injury that has kept him from starting games for the last month. They thought it was a possible spinal fracture, but a second opinion has relieved those concerns.
“It’s his team,” Wilson coach Andy Hall said of Royle. “This has been his team for the last four years, and especially the last two years. He’s our heart and soul.”
Instead of shutting it down for the year and saving himself for college, Royle has come out of the bullpen to close out key victories over Poly and Millikan this month.
“Physically, I actually feel pretty good,” Royle said after striking out three of the four batters he faced in the win over Millikan. “The back really wasn’t hurting that much. Obviously the adrenaline’s kind of worn down now, so it’s a little sore and tense. But the atmosphere out here was electric tonight. And it was super fun to go out there and be able to do that for my team.”
“He’s definitely a competitor,” Long Beach Poly senior and Royle’s childhood friend Ryan Skjonsby said. “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.”
Since Long Beach State, Cal Poly and UC San Diego are all in the Big West Conference, it’s fair to assume these three pitchers could face off again in college. But first, they all want to finish their senior seasons on a high note.
Millikan (18-7, 10-1) can clinch the Moore League title by beating fourth-place Poly on Wednesday. However, if the Jackrabbits can pull off the upset then Lakewood (16-9. 8-2) and Wilson (16-9, 8-2) have a chance to claim a share of the championship.
Support our journalism.
Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.