GIFFORD — Buckley Dutchmasters manager Ryne Scheiwe knew Saturday’s Eastern Illinois Baseball League Tournament championship series game against the Royal Giants would be a back-and-forth battle.
There had been plenty of those during this decade, as this weekend marked the fourth time the Dutchmasters and Giants are playing each other in the title series in the 2010's.
“Every time we play these guys, it’s always back and forth,” Scheiwe said. “They battle. We battle. It’s always a battle against these guys. We tip our hat to them.”
Sure enough, the Dutchmasters and Giants traded leads late, with the Dutchmasters overcoming a 5-4 deficit in the ninth inning en route to a 6-5 victory.
“Our guys never stopped battling," Scheiwe said. "I wouldn’t want to have a team other than this because they never say die no matter if we’re down one or down 10. It’s going to be the same approach. That’s the definition of a team win. We never gave up. We got down a couple of times, and our guys kept battling and had good at-bats and put it together in the end."
Cole Eshleman drove in the game-winning run via a two-out single to left field on a 2-1 pitch.
“I figured (Giants pitcher Colton) Carr was probably going to come with a fastball, and he did,” Eshleman said.
The Giants (14-8) claimed a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning as Blake Hoveln slid toward home plate for the go-ahead run, beating Eshleman’s throw attempt from third base on a Jake Cribbett ground ball.
Drew Schrodt led off the ninth inning with a single to center field for Buckley (18-4) before Nathan Walker lined a base hit to right field, on which Schrodt scored the tying run on a fielding error.
“I kind of botched that play (in the eighth),” Eshleman said. “Schrodt picked me up. Nathan got a base hit and picked me up. It was my turn to pick someone up. That’s what good teams do. They pick each other up.”
Walker finished the game hitting 3-for-3. After Quinton Hatfill -- who went 2-for-4 -- hit a leadoff double in the top of the second inning, Walker sent him home via a sacrifice fly to left field to give Buckley an early 1-0 lead.
Scheiwe said he thought about having Walker bunt in the ninth inning to possibly have Trey Russell at the plate and Schrodt on third base with one out, but had second thoughts due to Walker's productive day at the plate.
“He had been swinging a good bat," Scheiwe said. "With Trey Russell coming up behind him, we could very easily have bunted and moved a runner, but I didn’t want to take the bat out of (Nathan’s) hands because he had been swinging too well. He laced one to right field, and we were able to take the momentum.”
After Jake Cribbett hit an RBI double to right field to tie the game for the Giants in the bottom of the second inning, Buckley tallied three runs to take a 4-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning.
Hatfill hit a two-out single to left field and Schrodt drew a walk before Walker singled to center field to send Hatfill across home plate. As Walker stole second base, two throwing errors led to Schrodt and Walker each scoring a run.
“It’s just a really good team win all the way around," Eshleman said.
Thomas Wolken singled to center field to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning before Roberto Gonzalez hit a two-run homer to right field to cut the Giants' deficit to 4-3.
After Flowers was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning, the Dutchmasters' Andrew Zenner was relieved on the mound by Tyler Jones.
Zenner finished his outing with five strikeouts and one walk while allowing four earned runs on five hits through seven innings. It was Zenner's first outing of the season for Buckley as he spent the summer pitching for the Springfield Sliders of the Prospect League.
“It’s good to throw a good arm like that in," Scheiwe said. "He had one pitch he wants back. It gave them a little momentum, but other than that, he threw the ball very well and kept them off balance and got ahead early, and we rode him.”
With Jones on the mound, Colton Carr advanced Flowers to second base via a sacrifice bunt. After Hoveln was hit by a pitch, Wolken singled to center field to send Flowers home for a game-tying run.
Gonzalez drew an intentional walk to load the bases before Hoveln crossed home plate for the go-ahead run.
Jones struck out Nolan Roseman and Rigsby to end the inning. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Hayden Cargo flied out and Flowers grounded out. After Nick Meredith drew a walk and Hoveln was hit by a pitch, Wolken grounded out to end the game.
Jones was credited with the pitching win as he struck out two batters and walked two while allowing one unearned run on one hit.
“He threw a lot of strikes," Scheiwe said. "He came into a tough situation.”
Carr was credited with the loss on the mound as he allowed six runs -- four earned -- on nine hits and two walks with two strikeouts through 8 2/3 innings pitched for the Giants. Isaiah Robles allowed no runs on no hits and no walks through one-third of an inning.
“Carr threw very well," Scheiwe said. "We got to him a little bit early, and then he settled in a little bit. The bats kind of settled down in the middle of the game, but when the time mattered, we put some good swings on the bat.”
“That’s what championship weekend’s about," Eshleman added. "You get two really good teams in a great environment. That’s what makes it fun.”
Game two is scheduled to be played at 1 p.m. Sunday in Buckley. If necessary, game three will be played at about 4 p.m. that same day.
Buckley Dutchmasters 6, Royal Giants 5
BUCK 010 300 002 — 6 9 1
ROY 010 002 220 — 5 6 3
W — Tyler Jones, 2 IP, H, R, 0 ER, 2 K, 2 BB. L — Colton Carr, 8.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 K, 2 BB.
Buckley (18-4) -- Jake Stewart 1-5. Josh Krumwiede 1-4. Quinton Hatfill 2-4, 2B, 2 R. Drew Schrodt 1-3, 2 R. Nathan Walker 3-3, 2 RBIs, 2 R. Cole Eshleman 1-4, RBI.
Royal (14-8) -- Cody Flowers 1-4, R. Blake Hoveln R. Thomas Wolken 2-4, RBI, 2 R. Roberto Gonzalez 1-3, HR, 2 RBIs, R. Jake Cribbett 1-4, 2B, 2 RBIs. Toby Rigsby 1-4.