PAXTON -- The weather was warm, and the Paxton-Buckley-Loda baseball players' bats were hotter.
The Panthers produced 22 hits in a 27-4 win over Momence.
“I feel like we’ve done a lot of good things offensively throughout the year," PBL head coach Brock Niebuhr said. "Today, especially early on, we put together a lot of really good at-bats. Guys feel really comfortable swinging it right now, and they’re being productive at the plate. Hopefully, we can keep that momentum going.”
With Tuesday's win over Momence, PBL improved to 9-3 overall and 4-1 in the Sangamon Valley Conference.
Cissna Park leads the SVC standings with a 4-0 record while Iroquois West and Clifton Central were tied with PBL with a 3-1 record prior to Tuesday.
“Everybody’s in control of their own destiny a little bit," Niebuhr said. "We’ve just got to continue to focus on what we do and take care of our business. As we get later on into this conference season, we’ll hopefully be where we want to be.”
Tuesday's game was played in 70-plus degree weather and a sizable crowd, for which Niebuhr expressed his gratitude.
“We’re finally starting to see some nicer weather. The grass is turning green. I really appreciate the people who come out and support us," Niebuhr said. "We’ve got a really good baseball following, and it doesn’t go unnoticed, and it’s greatly appreciated.”
In the bottom of the first inning, PBL scored nine runs to erase a 3-0 deficit.
Keyn Humes -- who would finish the game hitting 3-for-5 -- led off the inning with a single before Mason Ecker walked and stole second base to put runners in scoring position.
Drake Schrodt then singled to center field to send Humes home before Ben Jarboe singled to left field to tie the game as Ecker and Schrodt crossed home plate.
After Jarboe scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball, Trey VanWinkle belted a triple to right field before scoring on a Tommy Quinn groundout.
After Dalton Busboom doubled to right field and Austin Gooden singled to center field, Gavin Coplea hit a triple to right field to send Colton Coy and Gooden across home plate.
After Humes and Schrodt each drew a walk, Jarboe reached base on an error as Humes and Schrodt both crossed home plate.
The Panthers added 10 more runs to their lead in the second inning.
Quinn led off the inning with a single to center field before advancing to second base on one of five Momence errors. Busboom singled to left field to send Quinn across home plate.
After Gooden doubled to right field and Coplea drew a walk to load the bases, Humes cleared the bases with a double to center field to send Coy, Gooden and Coplea home to extend PBL's lead to 13-3.
After Ecker was hit by a pitch and Humes and Ecker reached scoring position on a passed ball, Schrodt singled to right field to send both runners across home plate.
With a 15-3 lead, and after Ecker was hit by a pitch, Niebuhr started to give non-starters some playing time as Ben Busby went in to pinch hit for Jarboe.
Busby -- who would finish the game hitting 2-for-2 -- singled to right field to send Schrodt across home plate.
Quinn drew a one-out walk and Jacob Ager -- who went in to pinch hit for Busboom -- reached base on an error before Tanner Coe -- who was selected to pinch hit for Gooden, who finished the game hitting 2-for-2 -- singled to center field to send Busby home.
Coplea drew a bases-loaded walk to send Quinn home and Colton Coy -- who was chosen to pinch hit for Ecker -- reached base on an error that resulted in Ager crossing home plate for PBL's 19th run.
“It was good to give some guys some opportunities who don’t get as many opportunities as some other guys and give them a chance to get their reps as well and get on the field and make some plays for us, and I saw some things that can help us moving forward," Niebuhr said.
Busby hit a leadoff single to start the bottom of the third inning and VanWinkle -- who finished the game hitting 2-for-5 -- reached base on an infield single before Ager singled to left field to send Busby and VanWinkle across home plate to send PBL's lead to 21-3.
The Panthers added six more runs to their lead in the fourth inning.
Coy singled with one out and Levi Frichtl -- a pinch hitter for Schrodt, who finished the game hitting 2-for-2 -- drew a walk and Alex Rueck -- a pinch hitter for Busby -- was hit by a pitch to load the bases before VanWinkle singled to center field to send Coy home.
Carson Dudley -- who went in as a pinch hitter for Quinn -- singled to send Frichtl across home plate.
With two outs, Coe -- who went 2-for-3 by the game's end -- singled to send Rueck and VanWinkle across home plate. Coplea then singled to right field to send Dudley home.
Humes reached base on an error that sent Coe across home plate.
On the mound, Rueck earned the win for PBL, allowing three earned runs on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts through three innings -- and 56 pitches -- before being relieved by Coplea in the fourth inning.
“Once we had the lead, we were able to move some guys around and get some guys to eat up innings without wasting our pitchers," Niebuhr said.
Coplea allowed no runs on one hit and no walks through one inning -- and seven pitches before being relieved by VanWinkle in the fifth inning.
“We’ve been looking for a spot to get guys like Gavin and Trey on the mound to get them some work in some game situations, but some non-pressure situations," Niebuhr said. "That was nice for us to get those guys on the mound, and we’ll continue to get them in some spots. That way, as we get into some five-game or six-game weeks, we’re going to have those guys available, and they’re going to feel comfortable.”
VanWinkle allowed one earned run on two hits and no walks through the fifth inning.
“They came in and did a nice job," Niebuhr said. "They threw strikes. That’s something we can use in the future.”
PBL 27, Momence 4
MOM 300 01 -- 4 8 5
PBL 9(10)2 51 -- 26 22 0
W -- Alex Rueck, 3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 6 K, 2 BB. L -- Wogan, 1.1 IP, 13 H, 18 R, 15 ER, 0 K, 5 BB.
Momence -- Giasson 1-3. King 3-3, 3B, 2B, 2 R. Roberson 2-2, 2 RBIs, R. Wood 1-3, RBI, R. Wogan 1-3, 2B, RBI.
PBL (9-3, 4-1) -- Keyn Humes 3-5, 2B, 3 RBIs, 3 R. Mason Ecker 2 R. Colton Coy 1-3, 3 R. Drake Schrodt 2-2, 3 RBIs, 2 R. Levi Frichtl R. Ben Jarboe 1-2, 2 RBIs, R. Ben Busby 2-2, RBI, 2 R. Alex Rueck R. Trey VanWinkle 2-5, 3B, RBI, 3 R. Tommy Quinn 1-2, RBI, 2 R. Carson Dudley 1-2, RBI, R. Dalton Busboom 2-2, 2B, RBI. Jacob Ager 1-3, 2 RBIs, R. Austin Gooden 2-2, 2B, 2 R. Tanner Coe 2-3, 2 RBIs. Gavin Coplea 2-3, 3B, 4 RBIs, 2 R, 2 BB.