PAXTON -- After an 11-day layoff, the Paxton-Buckley-Loda baseball team had a chance to shake off the rust with a make-up game Saturday against Iroquois West.
"The big thing was just getting an opportunity to play again," PBL head coach Brock Niebuhr said. "It's been a long time since we've been on the field."
The Panthers ended the game -- which started at about 9:10 a.m. -- with a 5-0 victory.
"We had to get up and get going a little bit, but one thing that I love about this group is they're resilient," Niebuhr said. "They're not going to make any excuses. They're going to show up and put the work in and do whatever it takes, and they showed that again today."
With the win, PBL improved its overall record to 15-6 overall and its record in the Sangamon Valley Conference to 8-1.
"It was a good conference win," Niebuhr said. "I thought, for the most part, we played pretty decent baseball, especially for it being a very long time snce we've been out here."
A trio of Panthers combined to pitch a two-hit shutout.
Brett Giese started the game on the mound for PBL, striking out six batters while yielding no hits and four walks through three innings.
Cole Stone drew a walk in the top of the first inning, but was caught stealing. Kaleb Pheifer drew a walk as well, but Josiah Harkins grounded out to PBL first-baseman Ben Jarboe to leave Pfeifer stranded.
Giese struck out the side in the second inning. In the third inning, Tibaldo Alvarez and Jack Pree each drew a walk, but Giese struck out Stone and Ryan Tilstra, and after Pheifer drew a hit-by-pitch to load the bases, Harkins grounded out to the shortstop Trey VanWinkle.
Austin Gooden was credited with the win in a relief role as he allowed two runs and two walks with two strikeouts through two innings.
Peyton Rhodes singled to lead off the fourth inning, but was tagged out at second base on a throw from right-fielder Drake Schrodt to VanWinkle. Jack McMillan and Alvarez drew one- and two-out walks, respectively, but A. Miller and Pree each struck out to leave the runners stranded.
Tilstra singled with one out in the fifth inning, but was stranded on first base via a flyout by VanWinkle and a groundout by Harkins.
"I thought, for the most part, we pitched well," Niebuhr said. "We've got to throw more strikes. Both Brett and Austin threw well, but as we go forward, they've still got to throw more strikes, but they were around the plate, which was pretty good to see."
Ben Jarboe pitched the final two innings, allowing no hits and no walks while striking out four batters.
"To get Ben back on the mound for the first time in a while and see what he had was good to see. He threw the ball really well for us," Niebuhr said.
In the bottom of the first inning, Keyn Humes drew a walk before advancing to second base on an error and scoring on an RBI single hit to left field by Drake Schrodt.
After Schrodt stole second base and advanced to third base via a throwing error, Jarboe drew a walk before stealing second base, leaving two runners in scoring position.
Mason Ecker led off the bottom of the third inning with a single to left field before stealing second, reaching third base on another throwing error and crossing home plate on another RBI base hit to left field by Schrodt.
Schrodt and VanWinkle would each finish the game hitting 2-for-3 as the Panthers finished the game producing six hits at the plate.
"It was a tough day to hit today with the wet (field) and heavy air," Niebuhr said. "The ball wasn't carrying with the wind blowing in, but we still put together some quality at-bats and we competed."
In the bottom of the fifth inning, PBL extended its lead to 5-0 by scoring three runs.
Jarboe and Jacob Ager each drew a walk and VanWinkle singled to right field to load the bases before Jarboe and VanWinkle scored on a fielder's choice ground ball hit by Giese.
As Hunter Anderson reached base on an error on a line drive hit to right field, Giese crossed home plate for the Panthers' fifth run.
"It was good to see us take a 2-0 lead and extend that into a 5-0 lead late and take the pressure off the pitching a little bit," Niebuhr said.
The Panthers are scheduled Iroquois West again in Gilman on Monday before traveling to face Clifton Central on Tuesday and facing the same Central Comets at home the following Thursday.
After a regular-season finale at home next Saturday against Herscher, PBL will enter the IHSA Class 2A Watseka Regional as a No. 3 seed and face sixth-seeded Clifton Central in the semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16.
PBL 5, Iroquois West 0
IW 000 000 0 -- 0 2 5
PBL 101 030 0 -- 5 6 0
W -- Austin Gooden, 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 K, 2 BB. L -- Tibaldo Alvarez, 3.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 6 K, 2 BB.
Iroquois West -- Ryan Tilstra 1-3. Peyton Rhodes 1-3.
PBL (15-6, 8-1) -- Mason Ecker 1-4, R. Keyn Humes R, 2 BB. Drake Schrodt 2-3, 2 RBIs. Ben Jarboe R, 2 BB. Trey VanWinke 2-3, R. Brett Giese 2 RBIs, R. Gavin Coplea 1-2.