BUCKLEY -- The Paxton Swedes were one game and four outs away from advancing to the Eastern Illinois Baseball League Tournament championship series for the second straight year.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning of Sunday's tournament quarterfinal game against Game Seven Legacy, the Swedes tried to hang on to a 4-3 lead.
Instead, the Legacy scored three runs in the eighth inning en route to a 6-4 victory.
"We just fell a little short," Swedes player/manager Mark Prina said. "We played pretty well."
Colin Sullivan struck out the Legacy's first two batters of the inning before Gabe Soria drew a walk. Caden Burroughs swung at a 1-2 pitch, but the pitch got away from Paxton catcher Curtis Norman as Burroughs reached first base via a high throw to the base by Norman.
After CJ Falls drew a walk, on which Soria scored the tying run on a wild pitch on ball four, Daniel Mendoza doubled to center field to send Burroughs home for the go-ahead run. Jimmy Peterson then singled on a line drive to left field to send Falls home for an insurance run.
"That takes the bunt out of play because we needed to get two guys on base," Prina said.
Sullivan took the loss as he struck out seven batters and walked two while giving up three unearned run on three hits through two innings of relief.
"He did what he had to do," Prina said. "It's baseball. It's a crazy game."
In the first inning, Falls singled to center field and Mendoza drew a walk before William Van Duyne doubled to center field to send Mendoza home. From there, Jeff Wileavor and Aron Hopp each hit an RBI double to extend the Legacy's lead to 3-0.
From there, however, Swedes starting pitcher Will Horve threw five shutout innings. He finished his out with four strikeouts and two walks while allowing three earned runs on six hits through six innings pitched.
"Will settled down and did a nice job of keeping us in the game," Prina said. "He gave us a chance to get back in it."
Zak Hartlieb walked with one out in the top of the second inning before Hunter Phelps doubled to left field to send Hartlieb home to cut Paxton's deficit to 3-1.
In the top of the third inning, Prina singled to center field, Dawson Johns -- who finished the game leading 3-for-5 -- lined a base hit to left field and Norman -- who hit 2-for-4 -- singled to left field to load the bases with nobody out. The Swedes could not take advantage, however, as Carson Davis lined out to left field before Connor Allen grounded into a fielder's choice, forcing Prina out at home plate, and Hartlieb struck out swinging to leave the runners stranded.
"It would've been nice to score one or two (runs) there," Prina said. "That changes the game. Maybe we knock their pitcher out early and changed scenarios. Baseball is a fragile game. You've got to take advantage of your opportunities when you get them."
Johns led off the fifth inning with a single to left field before scoring on a passed ball to decrease Paxton's deficit to 3-2.
In the top of the seventh inning, Johns and Norman each hit a one-out single to left field before Johns scored a run on a passed ball. Norman crossed home plate on a Davis sacrifice fly to left field to give the Swedes a 4-3 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Burroughs was hit by a pitch and Falls singled to left field. Peterson was by a pitch to load the bases with one out, but Van Duyne and Wileavor each struck out swinging to leave the baserunners stranded.
"We fought back and played pretty well," Prina said. "Overall, it was a good ballgame. Both teams played well, pitched it pretty well for the most part and made plays. If you're a fan of baseball, it was a good game to watch. It was good, quality baseball. In a one-and-done situation, that's what happens. If we play a series, maybe we win the series, but they got the job done, and we didn't."
With the loss, Paxton ended its season with a record of 7-14.
"That's the way the season went," Prina said. "We just weren't able to take advantage of situations enough when we needed to. I still think we had a chance to win both games today. We had a good lineup and decent pitching. It just didn't work out that way for us. We'll come back at it next year. Hopefully, most of the guys will be back and we pick up another arm or two. We'll try it again next year. That's all we can do at this point."
Game Seven Legacy 6, Paxton Swedes 4
PAX 010 010 200 -- 4 7 1
GSL 300 000 03x -- 6 9 0
W -- David Throw, IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 K, 0 BB. L -- Colin Sullivan, 2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 7 K, 2 BB. S -- Ted Lingle, IP, 0 H, 0 R, K, 0 BB.
Paxton (7-14) -- Dawson Johns 3-5, 2 R. Curtis Norman 2-4, R. Carson Davis RBI. Zak Hartlieb R. Hunter Phelps 1-4, 2B, RBI. Mark Prina 1-4.
Legacy -- CJ Falls 2-4, R. Daniel Mendoza 1-4, 2B, RBI, R. Jimmy Peterson 2-4, RBI. William Van Duyne 1-5, 2B, RBI, R. Jeff Wileavor 1-4, 2B, RBI, R. Aron Hopp 2-4, 2B, RBI. Gabe Soria R, 2 BB. Caden Burroughs R.