BUCKLEY -- About 10 miles separate Paxton from Buckley.
Within the rivalry between the Eastern Illinois Baseball League teams named the Buckley Dutchmasters and Paxton Swedes contains a sub-rivalry between two players who are close in at least one other way.
The two players share the same last name as Evan Regez, the Dutchmasters' starting catcher, is the older brother of Tanner Regez, the Swedes' starting second-baseman.
“We have a good, friendly rivalry on the field and at home," Evan Regez said. "It’s fun.”
Evan Regez earned some bragging rights over his little brother in the final sequence of Buckley's 6-1 victory in game one of Saturday's Eastern Illinois Baseball League doubleheader.
As Tanner Regez attempted to steal second base, Evan Regez threw to second-baseman Josh Krumwiede, who tagged Tanner for the final out of the game.
“I saw him coming, and I just trusted my arm enough to let it loose there in the end,” Evan Regez said.
Evan Regez had some bragging rights prior to the throwout, as he hit 3-for-4 with two doubles. In Buckley's 14-1 game-two victory, he went 2-for-2 with an RBI.
“I’ve been lifting some weights in the offseason," Evan Regez said. "I just saw the ball really well today, so I just trusted my hands and saw the ball well in game one.”
Last year, Buckley started the season by losing its first four contests.
To sweep the season-opening twinbill was a welcome change for the Dutchmasters.
“It’s a great sweep. We’ll obviously expect a much better Paxton team later in the summer," Dutchmasters manager Trent Eshleman said. "We’ve got some new guys, and we’re getting to know each other. We’re looking for a good season. We want to be back in a championship competition this year, at least. We’ll see what happens.”
The Swedes were, according to player/manager Mark Prina, without "probably 3 or 4 of our main hitters" during Saturday's doubleheader.
“We’ll get them back. We’ll have more guys tomorrow," Prina said. "We’ll be ready to go. It was good just to play today for some of these guys who haven’t played in a while – to get back into the swing of things. The big picture’s at the end of the season. We would have liked to get out of here with a split, but it didn’t work out. It is what it is. We’ll show up tomorrow and go from there. They’ve got a nice team, but when we have everybody, we’ll be able to compete with them. It was a good day to play.”
Paxton played most of the doubleheader without Prina as well, as he had to leave the field during the third inning of game one after pulling his hamstring on a ground ball hit by Krumwiede. Prina fielded the ground ball, but fell before making a throw attempt, resulting in an infield single for Krumwiede -- and Prina watching the rest of game one in a golf cart and game two in a lawn chair outside the field's fencing.
“It’s happened before. I tried to make a play. My mind said I can do it, but my body said I can’t anymore," Prina said. "I’ll be back. I’ll just get healed up and let these young kids play for a while. I’ll be back, though. I’m not done.”
The infield single by Krumwiede led off a third inning in which Buckley scored three runs to erase a 1-0 deficit.
Noah Darr led off the first inning with a walk for the Swedes before Prina sent Darr to second base via a sacrifice bunt. Hunter Phelps lined a base hit to left field to send Darr home for the doubleheader's first run.
After Krumwiede's infield single, he stole second base before Tanner Russell notched another infield base hit in the next at-bat, moving Krumwiede to third base.
Tanner Russell moved to second base on a defensive indifference before Trey Russell reached base on an error that resulted in Krumwiede crossing home plate for the tying run.
After Nathan Walker drew a walk, Drew Schrodt singled to left field to send Tanner Russell home for the go-ahead run. Quinton Hatfill hit a single, but Trey Russell was forced out at home plate.
Jay Eshleman then grounded out, sending Walker home in the process.
Evan Regez led off the fourth inning with a double before advancing to third base on a Krumwiede groundout and scoring on a wild pitch to extend Buckley's lead to 4-1.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Schrodt was hit by a pitch with one out before Jay Eshleman hit a two-out double to right field to send Schrodt across home plate.
Evan Regez hit another leadoff double to right field to start the sixth inning. Krumwiede singled to right field before Tanner Russell grounded into a fielder's choice, on which Regez crossed home plate.
Tanner Russell, who played at Auburn University at Montgomery from 2017-18 after playing at Parkland College, finished the game hitting 1-for-4 with an RBI while Krumwiede and Quinton Hatfill each hit 2-for-3 and Jay Eshleman drove in two runs.
Connor Gross, one of the Dutchmasters' newcomers, pitched a two-hitter, striking out 11 batters and walking one.
In the second game, Scott Runyon allowed one earned run on four hits and one walk with two strikeouts through four innings while Tyler Jones struck out one batter and walked two while allowing no runs on no hits through two innings.
Paul Theole, who is also a Buckley newcomer, hit 1-for-1 with an RBI and two runs scored.
“We’ve got a good nucleus. We’ve got some backups that can play on a lot of teams," Trent Eshleman said. "It’s just about our family traditions and things here that attracts people to our organization.”
The pitching help is needed as Andrew Zenner, who had a 1.13 earned-run average and a 5-1 record with 32 strikeouts through 55 2/3 innings last year, is playing for the Prospect League's Springfield Sliders.
“We’ll expect to have him back for the end of the season and the tournament," Trent Eshleman said. "We wish him the best there, and we’re looking for a few road trips to Springfield to watch him pitch.”
Colin Sullivan pitched a complete game for the Swedes as well in game one, allowing six runs -- five earned -- on 10 hits and two walks with three strikeouts. In game two, Cam Robinson allowed six runs -- five earned on five hits and six walks with six strikeouts through four innings while Mario Renteria allowed eight earned runs on three hits and seven walks through 1 2/3 innings pitched.
“We had pitching today, and have pitching for tomorrow," Prina said. "It’s just hard with four games in one weekend, so we had to lengthen our pitching out for the weekend. We couldn’t go get somebody when they were in trouble today because we had to save guys for tomorrow."
Trey Russell capped game two -- and a seven-run sixth inning for the Dutchmasters -- with a walk-off grand slam hit past the left-field fence.
“Having Trey back is big for us," Trent Eshleman said. "We need that veteran leadership. We’ve got a good nucleus. We’ve got some guys back.”
Trey Russell's homer was one of eight hits produced by the Dutchmasters in game two -- and 18 through the doubleheader.
“We were looking at getting a little more clout in our lineup," Trent Eshleman said. "Last year, we just didn’t have a lot of punch.”
Mark Miller led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a walk before Cole Eshleman drew another walk with two outs. Thoele singled to left field to send Miller home before Cole Eshleman crossed home plate on an Evan Regez base hit to right field.
Krumwiede drew a walk to load the bases before Theole scored on a wild pitch. The bases were loaded again via a walk by Marty Mennenga prior to Trey Russell's grand slam.
Buckley scored five runs in the second inning to take a 5-0 lead.
Tanner Russell and Schrodt each drew a walk before Jay Eshleman singled to send Russell across home plate for the go-ahead run. Jay Eshleman advanced to second base on a defensive indifference after Schrodt advanced to third on Jay Eshleman's base hit.
With one out, Schrodt scored on a wild pitch. After Mitch Rhoades walked, he stole second base as Jay Eshleman scored on an error.
Rhoades scored on another error. Evan Regez singled to center field Krumwiede singled to left field and Mennenga was hit by a pitch before Evan Regez scored on a Trey Russell groundout.
Jacob Whitehead singled to left field to lead off the top of the third inning for the Swedes before Tanner Regez hit a one-out single to center field to send Whitehead home for Paxton's lone run.
The Swedes were shut out for the rest of the game behind a Dutchmasters defensive that committed no errors throughout the twinbill and included a diving catch by the catcher Jay Eshleman on a pop-up by Sullivan in the fifth inning.
“Our defense was pretty sharp today," Trent Eshleman said. “We had to pick up some pitchers. It’s going to be important, with some new pitchers, that our defense is tough. I think we got a good start on that.”
Tanner Russell doubled with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning before advancing to third base on a passed ball. He crossed home plate as Schrodt reached base on an error.
Cole Eshleman, Thoele and Evan Regez each walked to load the bases with nobody out in the fifth inning. With one out, Mennenga was hit by a pitch to send Theole across home plate.
While Buckley will travel to El Paso to face the Warriors at 1 p.m. today, the Swedes will host the Royals at 1 p.m. today.
"We’re going to have some more hitters coming tomorrow," Prina said. "We’ll be fine. We could very easily win two tomorrow. I’m not down. We’re just going to keep playing. We’re going to try to peak at the end of the year and make a run again.”
Buckley Dutchmasters 6, Paxton Swedes 1
PAX 100 000 0 -- 1 2 2
BUCK 003 111 x -- 6 10 0
W -- Connor Gross, 7 IP, 2 H, R, 11 K, BB. L -- Colin Sullivan, 6 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 3 K, 2 BB.
Paxton -- Noah Darr R. Mario Renteria 1-2. Hunter Phelps 1-3, RBI
Buckley -- Evan Regez 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R. Josh Krumwiede 2-3, R. Tanner Russell 1-4, RBI, R. Trey Russell RBI. Nathan Walker R. Drew Schrodt 1-1, RBI, R. Quinton Hatfill 2-3. Jay Eshleman 1-3, 2B, 2 RBIs.
Buckley Dutchmasters 14, Paxton Swedes 1
PAX 001 000 -- 1 4 3
BUCK 050 117 -- 14 8 0
W -- Scott Runyon, 4 IP, 4 H, ER, 2 K, BB. L -- Cam Robinson, 4 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 6 K, 6 BB.
Paxton -- Tanner Regez 1-4, RBI. Connor Allen 1-2, 2B. Jacob Whitehead 1-3, R. Kemmer 1-2.
Buckley -- Evan Regez 2-2, RBI, 2 R. Josh Krumwiede 1-4, R. Marty Mennenga RBI, R. Trey Russell 1-5, HR, 5 RBIs, R. Tanner Russell 1-2, 2B, 2 R. Mark Miller R. Drew Schrodt 1-3, R. Jay Eshleman 1-4, RBI, R. Cole Eshleman R, 2 BB. Mitch Rhoades R, 2 BB. Paul Theole 1-1, RBI, 2 R.