GIFFORD -- Over a span of two days, the Paxton Swedes lost three games.
Two of those games were each decided by one run, including a 6-5 defeat to the Royal Giants in an 11-inning game one of Sunday's Eastern Illinois Baseball League doubleheader.
The losses dropped Paxton's record to 3-9.
"It's frustrating, but there's not much you can do about it except come back next week and compete again," Swedes manager Mark Prina said. "We'll do that. We'll have to."
Paxton trailed 3-2 heading into the seventh inning before taking a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the eighth.
Curtis Norman led off the seventh inning with a walk. After Norman advanced to second base via a sacrifice bunt by Mark Miller, Dawson Johns drew another walk and Tanner Regez to load the bases.
Zak Hartlieb then hit a single to send Norman and Renteria across home plate for the tying and go-ahead runs, respectively.
In the top of the eighth inning, Norman walked with two outs and Miller singled to left field before JC Starbody sent Norman across home plate with an RBI double.
Hunter Phelps hit a leadoff single in the top of the second inning before crossing home plate on a fielder's choice ground ball hit by Miller. Johns belted a leadoff triple in the top of the third before scoring on a Regez groundout.
"I thought we hit the ball well that game," Prina said. "We scored runs when we needed to. For the most part, we made the plays."
Royal tied the game at 5-5 with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Roberto Gonzalez singled with one out and stole second base before Jake Cribbett doubled to center field to send Gonzalez across home plate. In the next at-bat, Toby Rigsby hit a ground ball that took what Prina described as an "eight-foot hop" over the head of Swedes second-baseman Tanner Regez, resulting in Cribbett crossing home plate for the tying run.
"That's just about as bad a break you can get," Prina said.
Cody Flowers singled and Colton Carr walked to put runners on first and second base with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth inning, but Blake Hoveln, Thomas Wolken and Gonzalez each flied out to send the game into extra innings.
Will Horve struck out eight batters while allowing five runs on nine hits through nine innings for Paxton before being relieved by Colin Sullivan.
"I thought Will did a great job of settling down after the first couple of innings and keeping us in the game," Prina said.
Cribbett doubled to center field with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning.
With two outs, Hayden Cargo singled to center field, but Johns threw to home plate to deny the potential game-winning run from crossing home plate.
Hoveln was hit by a pitch with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning before Wolken doubled to left field and Gonzalez drew an intentional walk to load the bases. Casey Dillman drew a walk to send Hoveln home for the game-winning run.
"The first game was just a good battle. We competed our butts off and had the game won. That was just a good ballgame," Prina said. "They played hard and we played hard. We got a bad break. That's baseball -- it happens."
In game two, Paxton lost 10-4.
"I think that took a little bit of wind out of our sales going into the second game. The umpire was squeezing Colin (Sullivan) early in the game. Colin has to be able to get pitches on the corners to be effective, and he knows that. When he has to start throwing the ball down the middle of the plate, especially against a team that can swing the bat, that just doesn't work well," Prina said. "Then they hit jam shots just over the infielders' heads."
After pitching two innings of relief in game one, Sullivan pitched a complete game for the Swedes in game two, striking out five batters and walking two while allowing 10 runs on 15 hits.
"Sullivan didn't pitch that bad," Prina said. "They got some bloop singles. He settled down at the end and threw some scoreless innings in the last couple of innings. He gutted it out -- he always does that."
Though Horve and Sullivan were the Swedes' planned pitchers for the doubleheader, Mark Miller and Zak Hartlieb were backup plans if necessary, Prina said. Jake Hensgen was unavailable for the weekend.
"We had what we knew we would have," Prina said.
Prina said he thought there would be a couple more guys playing on Sunday, but they did not show up.
"(That's) a little disappointing," Prina said. "I'll have to make some phone calls and find out whether some of these guys are going to make a commitment or not. If not, we'll move on. We've got to get some commitments from some of the people who aren't showing up regularly. That's not fair to everybody else."
Paxton scored three runs in the top of the first inning.
Johns was hit by a pitch and Curtis Norman drew a walk before Phelps singled to left field to load the bases. Johns crossed home plate as Robinson hit into a double play. After Connor Allen and Regez each drew a walk to reload the bases, Miller and Sullivan each drove in a run via a base-on-balls.
After Royal (8-4) tied the game in the bottom of the first inning via an RBI double by Colton Carr and run-scoring singles by Gonzalez and Rigsby, Paxton regained the lead with a run in the top of the second inning. Johns, Norman and Phelps each drew a walk before Regez hit a two-out infield single to send Johns across home plate.
With two outs in the bottom of the second inning, Wolken hit a two-RBI double to center field and Gonzalez singled to center field to extend Royal's lead to 6-4.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Giants scored four more runs to further extend their advantage to 10-4.
Wolken led off the inning with a double to right field before Gonzalez hit an RBI two-bagger to center field. After Cribbett was hit by a pitch and Rigsby singled to center field, Hayden Hargo sent two runs across home plate with a double down the third-base line and Cody Flowers sent Royal's 10th run home with a sacrifice fly ball.
"We jumped on them early. I thought we competed early, but then I thought, in the middle of that game, we got frustrated with the umpire and lost focus for a while, and they took advantage of it and put the game away," Prina said.
"We have to do a better job of being more mature and staying focused in the game all the way throughout because I still think we would have had some more opportunities to scratch back into that game if we would have done that. We've had a lot of misfortune on the field happen to us in games where we've been close and competed in almost every game this year."
The Swedes will host Game Seven Legacy next Sunday.
"At some point, if we stay the course and play the game the correct way and do the little things right, I think we can catch fire here and maybe make a run in the tournament," Prina said. "We need to do it consistently for a few weeks going into the tournament. That's where we're at right now."
Buckley Dutchmasters win two due to forfeiture by El Paso Warriors. With the wins, the Dutch extend their league-leading record as they improve to 10-3. On the EI League’s website is the following announcement: “Any player looking to play competitive semi-professional baseball in the E.I. League please contact the League Secretary, Trent Eshleman, at firstname.lastname@example.org He will put you in contact with League President Andrew Cotner or with those teams needing players to fill out teams.”
Royal Giants 6, Paxton Swedes 5
PAX 011 000 210 00 -- 5 8 1
ROY 020 001 020 01 -- 6 12 0
W -- Robles. L -- Colin Sullivan, 2 IP, 3 H, R, 0 K, 3 BB.
Paxton (3-9) -- Dawson Johns 1-5, 3B, 2 R. Tanner Regez RBI. Zak Hartlieb 2-6, 2 RBIs. Hunter Phelps 2-5, R. Connor Allen 1-4. Curtis Norman 2 R, 3 BB. Mark Miller 1-3, RBI. JC Starbody 1-5, 2B, RBI.
Royal (8-4) -- Cribbett 3-5, HR, 2 2B, 2 R. Rigsby 1-4, R. Cargo 3-5. Carr 1-4. Hoveln R. Wolken 2-6, 2B, R. Gonzalez 1-5, R. Meredith 1-3.
Royal Giants 10, Paxton Swedes 4
PAX 310 000 0 -- 4 4 0
ROY 330 400 x -- 10 15 1
L -- Colin Sullivan, 6 IP, 15 H, 10 R, 5 K, 2 BB.
Paxton (3-9) -- Curtis Norman 2 BB. Hunter Phelps 2-3. Tanner Regez 1-2, RBI, 2 BB. Mark Miller RBI. Colin Sullivan RBI. JC Starbody 1-3.
Royal (8-4) -- Cody Flowers 1-2, RBI. Colton Carr 3-4, 2B, RBI. Thomas Wolken 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBIs. Roberto Gonzalez 3-4, 2B, 3 RBIs. Jake Cribbett 1-2. Toby Rigsby 3-4, RBI. Hayden Cargo 1-4, 2B, 2 RBIs. Casey Dillman 1-4.