PAXTON — Perhaps the most famous of the many quotes said by the late Ernie Banks, a former player for the Chicago Cubs, was, “It’s a great day for a ball game; let’s play two.”
A majority of Sundays during the Eastern Illinois Baseball League’s seasons went by Banks’ concept. However, over the past two weeks, the weather in Central Illinois had other ideas.
After the Buckley Dutchmasters won 5-1 in game one of Sunday’s EI League doubleheader against the Paxton Swedes, game two was postponed due to rainy and windy weather. A make-up date has been set for 1 p.m. next Saturday in Paxton.
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 last 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.
“The weather’s been terrible all summer,” Swedes manager Mark Prina said last Sunday. “Yesterday would have been a good day to play, but oh well. We just have to do what we have to do and play the games we can, I guess.”
Two of Paxton’s six errors in game one were committed in the first inning, leading to a 1-0 lead for Buckley.
Jake Stewart reached base on a fielding error by Swedes second-baseman Tanner Regez. With one out, Josh Krumwiede grounded out to third-baseman Hunter Phelps, but Zak Hartlieb’s errant throw to third base led to Stewart crossing home plate.
“You’re not going to win many games making that many errors,” Prina said. “Other than that, I thought we competed.”
After Tanner Russell reached base on a throwing error by shortstop Curtis Norman with one out in the top of the fifth inning for Buckley (7-3), Stewart doubled to left field to put runners on second and third base. A passed ball then led to both Russell and Stewart crossing home plate to extend the Dutchmasters’ lead to 3-0.
Evan Regez reached base on an error by the right-fielder Joey Galey and Trey Russell reached base on another error by Norman on a two-out ground ball. Regez crossed home plate on an error by third-baseman Colin Sullivan on a ground ball hit by Nathan Walker to make the score 4-0.
“You’ve got to make the plays,” Stewart said. “If you don’t make the play, then we’ve got to make sure that we make them pay for it. That’s kind of what we did.”
Stewart, who finished the game hitting 3-for-5, led off the top of the seventh inning with a triple to left field before scoring on a wild pitch with two outs to extend the Dutchmasters’ lead to 5-0.
“You find the barrel and hit it where they’re not,” Stewart said. “I’ve been pretty fortunate when it comes to that. We’ll just keep plugging away at this point.”
Meanwhile, Andy Davis pitched a shutout for seven innings in his third start of the season for Buckley en route to earning his first win of the summer.
“It feels good to be getting in a groove and finally get a win,” Davis said.
After Davis retired the Swedes’ first six at-bats, Jake Hensgen led off the bottom of the third inning with an infield single. With two outs, Dawson Johns singled to center field to put runners on first and second base, but Tanner Regez flied out to Stewart in center field to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Hartlieb and Phelps each drew a one-out walk before advancing into scoring position via a Cam Robinson groundout.
Jake Hensgen then grounded out to shortstop Jay Eshleman to leave the runners stranded.
“It was just one of those days where we didn’t make the plays that we needed to get some rallies going,” Prina said. “They made some timely hits, and we didn’t.”
Johns got on base via an infield single with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning before Tanner Regez was hit by a pitch, but both baserunners were stranded as Norman struck out looking.
Hartlieb was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. After Sullivan struck out, Robinson hit a fly ball to right field that was caught via a diving effort by Nathan Walker. Hensgen flied out to Tanner Russell for the third out.
Walker made another diving catch on a Galey fly ball to start the bottom of the seventh inning before JC Starbody flied out to Stewart and Johns grounded out to third-baseman Mitch Rhoades.
“Nathan did a good job today,” Davis said. “He came up in big spots. We got out of a lot of jams and played really well.”
Davis finished his outing with six strikeouts while allowing no runs on three hits and two walks through seven innings.
“We all played really well,” Davis said. “(Catcher) Evan (Regez) did a good job of keeping me on track. We scored runs, and it feels good to get a win.”
Will Horve took the loss on the mound for the Swedes (3-6), allowing five runs — one earned — on five hits and no walks with four strikeouts through seven innings.
“Their pitcher was good,” Prina said. “(Horve) did a good job today, but we didn’t catch (the ball) and throw it very well.”
With Tyler Jones on the mound, the Swedes scored their only run in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Norman drew a walk with one out and Hartlieb singled to center field before Robinson singled to left field to send Norman across home plate.
Galey led off the bottom of the ninth inning with an infield single before Noah Darr popped out to Quinton Hatfill — who finished the game hitting 2-for-4 while Evan Regez hit 2-for-5. Johns flied out to right-fielder Cole Eshleman and Tanner Regez grounded out to shortstop Jay Eshleman to end the game.
Jones allowed one earned run on three hits and one walk through two innings.
For Paxton, Hensgen relieved Horve and allowed no runs on three hits and no walks with one strikeout through two innings.
Following their make-up game against Buckley on Saturday, the Swedes will travel to Gifford to face the Royal Giants at 1 p.m. next Sunday.
“I think we’re very similar-type teams,” Prina said. “I think we would have had a good chance to come out and compete in the second game. We’ll try to do that next Saturday and go from there.”
The Dutchmasters, meanwhile, will host the El Paso Warriors at 1 p.m. next Sunday in Buckley.
Buckley Dutchmasters 5, Paxton Swedes 1
BUCK 100 030 100 -- 5 8 0
PAX 000 000 010 -- 1 6 6
W -- Andy Davis, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 6 K, 2 BB. L -- Will Horve, 7 IP, 5 H, 5 R, ER, 4 K, 0 BB.
Buckley (7-3) -- Jake Stewart 3-5, 3B, 2B, 3 R. Evan Regez 2-5, R. Quinton Hatfill 2-4. Mitch Rhoades 1-4. Tanner Russell R.
Paxton (3-6) -- Dawson Johns 2-5. Curtis Norman R. Zak Hartlieb 1-2. Cam Robinson 1-4, RBI. Jake Hensgen 1-4. Joey Galey 1-4.