BUCKLEY — A cliché about baseball states as follows — sometimes, you win, sometimes, you lose, and sometimes, it rains.
At different points during game two of the Eastern Illinois Baseball League Tournament championship series on Sunday, it looked like all three possibilities would come true for the Buckley Dutchmasters.
The day started with light rain coming down on Scheiwe Field.
“It was kind of a dreary day early on, but we were going to stick it out until dark to get these games in, but it turned out to be a pretty good day,” Dutchmasters manager Ryne Scheiwe said.
The rain eventually stopped — though it would return after the game — Buckley also trailed throughout the game, but for the second day in a row, the Buckley Dutchmasters erased a ninth-inning deficit.
Trailing 7-5 entering the bottom of the ninth inning against the Royal Giants, Buckley rallied back with three runs to walk off with an 8-7 victory.
“Never say die – that’s kind of been our motto,” Scheiwe said. “I’d take these guys over anybody any day of the week.”
The win gave the Dutchmasters (19-4) their fourth tournament title in five years.
“It’s nice to have the championship back in Buckley, for sure,” said Buckley right-fielder Drew Schrodt.
It is also Buckley’s fifth tournament title in the 2010’s. They lead the EI League in all-time tournament championships with 16.
“That’s where we want to be every year,” Scheiwe said. “We want to be here on the field celebrating.”
Once again, it was Cole Eshleman who drove in the game-winning run for Buckley. In game one the previous Saturday, Eshleman hit an RBI single to help propel the Dutchmasters to a 6-5 win. On Sunday, he drew a walk with the bases loaded to send Schrodt home for the walk-off run.
“I knew we had a few chances there rallying in the ninth. That’s just what good teams do. We have a lot of trust in each other,” Eshleman said. “Not for a second was anyone down in our dugout. We were fighting until the end.”
Sunday’s ninth-inning rally started with Josh Krumwiede drawing a one-out walk. After Quinton Hatfill reached base on a fielding error to put runners on the corners, Schrodt — who hit 2-for-4 while Eshleman went 2-for-3 — singled to center field on a 1-2 pitch to send Krumwiede home.
Schrodt advanced to second base, and Hatfill moved to third, on the throw toward the infield.
“I was trying to put the ball in play,” Schrodt said. “That’s about the only thing you can do – to put the ball in play and hope to hit it hard and hope it gets through. It was awesome.”
After the Giants (14-9) intentionally walked Nathan Walker to load the bases, Trey Russell drew another walk to send Hatfill home to score the tying run.
Royal used two different pitchers during the ninth inning.
In the eighth inning, Schrodt drew a leadoff walk and Walker doubled to right field to put two runners in scoring position before Nolan Roseman — who finished his outing on the mound allowing five earned runs on eight hits and four walks with four strikeouts through seven innings pitched — was relieved on the mound by Chad Vermilion.
Trey Russell sent Schrodt home via a sacrifice fly ball to center field and Jay Eshleman grounded out to send Walker home to cut Buckley’s deficit to 7-5.
Vermillion was relieved by Thomas Wolken after Krumwiede’s ninth-inning walk. Vermillion was credited with the loss, allowing one earned run on one hit and one walk through 1 1/3 innings pitched.
“They got down some arms in their bullpen,” Scheiwe said. “You’ve got to make them throw strikes. That’s the first thing in baseball. They struggled a little bit on the mound, and we took advantage of it, and here we are. It feels good.”
An RBI double by Schrodt helped the Dutchmasters cut a 5-1 deficit to 5-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning.
“He threw me a fastball in a perfect spot, and I hit it down the line and got to second base,” Schrodt said.
Krumwiede led off the inning with a single to right field and Hatfill lined a base hit to center field prior to Schrodt’s two-bagger.
“We’ve been fighting all day. We just needed a little spark,” Scheiwe said. “That’s all we needed.”
Royal scored four runs in the top of the first inning.
With one out and Colton Carr — who finished the game hitting 2-for-5 — on first base, Blake Hoveln was hit by a pitch and Wolken singled to left field. Carr scored on an error in left field.
After Roberto Gonzalez drew an intentional walk to load the bases, Jake Cribbett singled to right field to send Hoveln home. On the hit, Wolken scored on a fielding error in right field and Gonzalez crossed home plate on the same error.
“It was a little rough early for the fielders with the wet ball,” Scheiwe said. “You’ve just got to play through it, but our guys always fight. That’s the name of the game here. We’ve always got a chance. There’s always a chance.”
Roseman hit an infield single to put runners on the corners with just one out, but Cribbett was picked off at third base on a defensive indifference. On the same sequence, Roseman was caught stealing third base to end that half of the inning.
In the top of the fourth inning, Toby Rigsby was hit by a pitch, but was caught stealing second base as Buckley pitcher Scott Runyan threw to the first-baseman Hatfill, who threw to the shortstop Jay Eshleman to tag Rigsby out at second base.
“Our pitchers are good pitch-to-contact type guys,” Scheiwe said. They know they can let our defense play behind us. It works out in our favor 99 percent of the time.”
In the bottom of the first inning, Jake Stewart tripled to center field before scoring on an Evan Regez groundout to cut the Dutchmasters’ deficit to 4-1. In the top of the second inning, Rigsby was hit by a pitch before Carr hit a two-out single to right field to send Rigsby home to extend the Giants’ lead to 5-1.
Flowers drew a one-out walk in the top of the seventh inning. After Carr singled to right field and Hoveln was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Runyan was relieved on the mound by Andy Davis, who walked Wolken to send Flowers across home plate.
Gonzalez grounded out to send Carr home before Cribbett lined out to Jay Eshleman for the third out of the inning.
Runyan finished his outing allowing seven earned runs on six hits and five walks with three strikeouts through 6 1/3 innings pitched. Davis was credited with the win for Buckley as he allowed no runs on two hits and one walk with one strikeout through 2 2/3 innings.
“(Runyan) threw the ball well all year. He didn’t have his best stuff today, but he kept battling for us,” Scheiwe said. “He kept us in the game long enough to get to Andy Davis, and he came in and threw strikes. He came into a tough situation, but he ended up getting us out and just kept them off the scoreboard.”
This past weekend marked the fourth time in the 2010’s that Royal and Buckley faced each other in the championship series. The Dutchmasters beat the Giants in 2012 and 2015 while the Giants got the upper hand in 2013.
In each year since 2011, the title series was represented by Buckley and/or Royal, which has won two tournament championships this decade.
“I’m going to tip my hat to Royal,” Scheiwe said. “They put the pressure on us early today and got us down, but our guys never stopped fighting. They always take a good approach to the batter’s box, and it turned in our favor today. Royal always battles us hard. No matter what, it’s going to be a good game.”
After Sunday’s game, members of the Dutchmasters took some time to high-five fans located behind Scheiwe Field’s right-field fence, just as they did after winning the 2016 and 2017 titles.
“It feels great. You can’t thank the fans enough. We had a heck of a crowd today. Everyone coming out and investing in a Sunday league baseball game is really something special to be around,” Eshleman said. “It feels good to have (the title) back in Buckley, for sure.”
Buckley Dutchmasters 8, Royal Giants 7
ROY 410 000 200 — 7 8 1
BUCK 100 200 023 — 8 10 3
W — Andy Davis, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, K, BB. L — Chad Vermillion, 1.1 IP, H, ER, 0 K, BB.
Royal (14-9) — Cody Flowers 1-4, R. Colton Carr 2-5, RBI, R. Blake Hoveln 2-3, RBI, R, 2 BB. Thomas Wolken 2-3, RBI, R, 2 BB. Roberto Gonzalez RBI, R. Jake Cribbett 1-5, RBI. Nolan Roseman 1-3. Toby Rigsby 1-2, R.
Buckley (19-4) — Jake Stewart 1-5, 3B, R. Evan Regez 1-5, RBI. Quinton Hatfill 1-4, 2 R. Drew Schrodt 2-4, 2B, 2 RBIs, 2 R. Nathan Walker 1-3, 2B, RBI, R. Trey Russell 1-4, 2 RBIs. Jay Eshleman RBI. Cole Eshleman 2-3, RBI, 2 BB.