PAXTON -- The Buckley Dutchmasters and Paxton Swedes each put together, in Dutchmasters manager Ryne Scheiwe's words, a "skeleton squad" for Saturday's make-up game.
Buckley won 3-2 despite the absences of, among other players, its top-two hitters in Jake Stewart and Evan Regez along with starters Quinton Hatfill, Nathan Walker and Drew Schrodt.
“A win’s a win. It wasn’t pretty," Scheiwe said. "It’s hard to get guys to show up on Saturdays. You’ve got to battle on a day like that. We’ve got a lot of young guys who want to play the game and get out there.”
The game was made up after game two of the the previous Sunday's Eastern Illinois Baseball League doubleheader was postponed due to weather.
“We played pretty well with the team we had here," Swedes player/manager Mark Prina said. "It was a good effort by our group that was here today. (The Dutchmasters) were shorthanded, too. It’s just the way it is on Saturdays in this league. People have to work.
"It is what it is, but we both showed up. One thing about Paxton and Buckley is we’ll both show up and put nine guys out there and compete. It might not be the best product, but we’ll compete with the guys we’ve got, and they will, too. That’s why it’s fun playing them. We’ve both got guys who like to play the game, and the guys who showed up today played hard. They just happened to scratch one more across.”
The Swedes put together a nine-man roster despite their starting left-fielder, Mark Prina, and first-baseman, Connor Allen, each nursing an injury. It was Mark Prina's first game since June 1.
“Connor (Allen) and I both shouldn’t have been playing today," Mark Prina said. "We’re both still nursing hamstrings. We had to play – we weren’t going to forfeit, so we did what we have to do and both got through it OK. It just sucks because you can’t do what you know you can do because you’re not healthy. If both of us were healthy, it’d be a little different story.”
Paxton also had Pat Prina as its No. 9 hitter and starting right-fielder.
Pat Prina played baseball at the University of Iowa from 1964-68 and for the Chicago Chiefs from 1966-71 before playing third base for the Swedes from 1972-78.
“It’s not like it’s something new to him," Mark Prina said. “He knows how to play the game. His mind says he can do it. His body says he can’t, but he just likes to have fun and compete. He’s just having fun and being a kid again. That’s what it’s all about. It’s kind of fun to play with him. Not many 73-year-olds are in good-enough shape to do what he did.”
Pat Prina taught and coached at Paxton and Paxton-Buckley-Loda from 1969-2006 was was the head baseball coach at Buckley-Loda and PBL in 1980-2006. In 2003, he was elected to the IHSA Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.
“He’s taught the game to a lot of people throughout the years growing up in this town," Mark Prina said. “It would have been fun for me to watch him when he was younger. I would have liked to have seen him when he was good. Stories from people who did play with him say he was pretty good back in the day.”
Saturday's game against Buckley was not the first time that Pat Prina played for the Swedes this season. He went 1-for-3 with a run scored in game two of a doubleheader against Game Seven Legacy on June 9.
“I was at a point where I couldn’t play at all, so he had to play to give us a ninth guy," Mark Prina said. "The plan was he was just going to start the game (and then sub him out) because you have to start with nine (players). You can finish with eight, and that was the plan, but him being a competitor, he said he thought he could get a hit, and lo and behold, he did in the last inning of that game, and scored a run. I still don’t know how he did that.”
On Saturday, Pat Prina went 0-for-3 with no strikeouts.
"He put the ball in play every time -- people don’t understand how hard that is to do," Mark Prina said. "We had college guys striking out today. He didn’t strike out.”
Cole Eshleman reached base on an error with one out in the top of the first inning for Buckley.
After Josh Krumwiede hit an infield single and Mitch Rhoades walked to load the bases, Andy Davis drew a two-out base-on-balls to send Cole Eshleman across home plate and give the Dutchmasters a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth inning, Buckley scored two more unearned runs to extend its lead to 3-0.
Davis drew a leadoff walk before Dakota Zenner was hit by a pitch and Luis Rodriguez got on base via a bunt single to load the bases with nobody out before Mark Miller reached base on an error that resulted in Davis and Zenner crossing home plate.
“It’s all about execution on a day like this," Scheiwe said.
“That’s been our Achilles heel this year – not making the plays when we need to and giving up too many unearned runs," Mark Prina added. "If we can shore that up down the stretch, I still feel confident in the team because I think we’ve got the pitching to do something in the tournament. If we can get our position guys here and get people in the right spots defensively where they’re more comfortable, I think we’ll start making the plays that we need to make to win close ballgames.”
The Swedes (3-7) scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Dawson Johns was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. With two outs, Zak Hartlieb tripled to right-center field to send Johns across home plate. Hartlieb crossed home plate on a Hunter Phelps groundout.
“We did a great job of getting within one (run) in the sixth inning to make it an interesting game," Mark Prina said.
Krumwiede and Rhoades each walked to lead off the top of the seventh inning before Jay Eshleman doubled to center field. The Swedes' center-fielder, Johns, threw to the catcher Phelps to tag Krumwiede across home plate.
With runners on first and third base, Davis struck out and Zenner popped out to Robinson to leave the runners stranded.
“That was a heck of a throw by (Johns)," Mark Prina said. "That’s as good a throw as I’ve seen in this league in a long time.
“It was a useful day for us because we got to play and see some live pitching. It was a good ballgame. Besides the couple of errors that we made, it was a pretty clean ballgame. There weren’t many passed balls or wild pitches. It was pretty decent baseball. We just didn’t have the firepower offensively today.”
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Allen struck out looking and Mark and Pat Prina each grounded out to end the game.
The Swedes had runners on first and second base with nobody out in the bottom of the fifth inning. Mark Prina flied out to right field as Colin Sullivan tagged up and advanced to third base.
Pat Prina hit a ground ball to Buckley third-baseman Mitch Rhoades, who threw to the catcher Jay Eshleman to tag Sullivan out at home plate.
Eshleman then threw to the first-baseman Zenner to force Pat Prina out.
“We got stuck in the bottom of our order in the last inning," Mark Prina said. "We just got caught in the wrong spot in the order to have a chance to tie or win that game.”
Scott Runyon and Cam Robinson each threw a complete game for the Dutchmasters (8-3) and Swedes, respectively.
Runyon struck out five batters and walked two while allowing two earned runs on three hits.
“I can’t say enough about Scott Runyon," Scheiwe said. "He definitely threw the ball well today. He battled out there all day and threw a lot of strikes. He kept them off-balance, so that helped. We had a couple of arms behind them, but we didn’t want to have to use them because of the long weekend.”
Robinson allowed two unearned runs on six hits and three walks with six strikeouts.
“Cam threw a great game," Prina said. "They both pitched well. Runyon’s a good pitcher. He mixes it up. We finally got to him in the sixth inning, but he did a good job of finishing the game for them. Cam did a good job of finishing the game for us. He kept us from having to use another guy and saved us a guy for tomorrow.”
Last Sunday's scheduled doubleheader against the Swedes was not the only twinbill that was shortened to one game by the weather this season.
The previous Sunday, the second game of Buckley's twinbill against Game Seven Legacy was also postponed due to weather. The Dutchmasters and Legacy were scheduled to make up that game the following Saturday, but due to a shortage of available umpires, that game will now be played at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 27, in Buckley.
The Swedes, meanwhile, were scheduled to make up a rained-out doubleheader against the Gifford-Flatville Giflats last Saturday. That twinbill will be played on July 27 as well at 1 p.m. in Gifford.
“We’ve been battling it all year," Scheiwe said. "The weather doesn’t want to play nice. I know it’s hard to get a lot of guys on Saturdays, especially with the Fourth of July weekend. It was a little tough, but luckily, we had enough guys show up and put together a good team out there.”
While the Dutchmasters host the El Paso Warriors on Sunday, Paxton will travel to Gifford to face the Royal Giants.
"Tomorrow, we’ll have most of our guys back tomorrow and go down and compete with Royal tomorrow," Mark Prina said. "We should have the pitching to do it. We’ll have more position players. We won’t have to have two cripples and an old man out there playing tomorrow. We’ll be back to our normal guys tomorrow.”
Buckley Dutchmasters 3, Paxton Swedes 2
BUCK 100 200 0 -- 3 7 0
PAX 000 002 0 -- 2 3 2
W -- Scott Runyon, 7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 5 K, 2 BB. L -- Cam Robinson, 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 6 K, 3 BB.
Buckley (8-3) -- Tanner Russell 1-4. Cole Eshleman R. Josh Krumwiede 2-3. Jay Eshleman 2-4, 2B, Andy Davis RBI, R, 2 BB. Dakota Zenner R. Luis Rodriguez 1-3, Mark Miller 1-3, 3B, 2 RBIs.
Paxton (3-7) -- Hunter Phelps 1-3, RBI. Cam Robinson 1-3. Colin Sullivan 2 BB. Zak Hartlieb 1-3, 3B, RBI.