AUGUSTA – Joey Royer balked when his parents told him of their decision to enroll him at Cheverus High. Rip him from his friends and his Westbrook Little League teammates? Mom, Dad, how could you?

They could, evoking every parents’ right and obligation to do what’s best for their child. Elisa and Greg Royer believed a Cheverus education was more important.

Don’t worry, Joey. Cheverus has a baseball team, too. That fact was little comfort to a teenager who was sure he and his Westbrook buddies had the better talent, the better karma and the better chance to take the big prize.

Joey Royer smiled Saturday at the 4-year-old memories of his personal crisis. He had just pitched Cheverus to the Class A championship.

Royer checked Lewiston, giving up five hits. He struck out seven in a 9-1 victory.

“Because of my arm, I was on a 100-pitch count,” he said. “I hoped it wouldn’t get sore.”

He couldn’t pitch for much of the season, sidelined by tendinitis. He returned before the end of the season but held his breath when he visited his physical therapist last week to get the clearance he so desperately wanted to pitch again.

Scott Heath, his good friend at Westbrook and a fellow pitcher, hurt a major ligament in his throwing arm in the last game of the regular season. Heath will undergo Tommy John surgery later this month. Royer felt for his friend and talked to him.

Royer also wouldn’t let the doubt creep into his mind that a similar injury could happen to him. “My arm hurt the other day but it was the usual soreness after pitching. I didn’t think about it.”

Did he play the final in his mind again and again Friday night. “No. It took me a little while to get to sleep but I told myself I wasn’t going to think about this game. So I didn’t.”

He threw 95 pitches. When the trophy was presented and he posed for the obligatory photos, he never felt better. The grin gave that away.

He was a chubby, 5-foot-8, 185-pound 12-year-old playing for Westbrook Little League in the summer of 2005. Not the star pitcher, but an integral part of a lineup that captured imaginations.

Westbrook reached the Little League World Series. Royer pitched in a loss and a victory.

“That summer still means a lot to me. All that happened and that we were all together for so long. Did we have any worries? No, not really.”

Then Royer went off to get his Cheverus education. Certainly there was a feeling in the Westbrook community that Royer abandoned his friends. He had to deal with perpetual criticism that Cheverus success is due to cherry-picking the best athletes from different school systems.

Never mind that this was the first baseball state title for the private school.

After weeks as a freshman feeling betrayed by his parents, Royer found new friends and teammates. He had to spend more time on his schoolwork than he anticipated, but Saturday he said it was all to the good. He heads to the University of New Haven later this summer.

That doesn’t mean he’s forgotten his roots. Cheverus beat Westbrook to reach the state final. Zach Collett, the Westbrook star infielder, is still one of his good friends and Royer could feel Collett’s disappointment.

Saturday, Royer was determined not to feel his own.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

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