BUCKLEY — Tim Dillman has seen what Hayden Cargo and Nolan Roseman are capable of on a baseball diamond. And the Royal Giants’ manager has just one question after the latest of those experiences.
“I don’t know how they didn’t win a regional their whole career in high school,” Dillman said. “But there’s a lot of talent coming out of there.”
The two Rantoul graduates on Saturday guided Royal to a 3-1 win over Buckley during Saturday’s first game of the Eastern Illinois Baseball League championship series.
Should the Giants (8-0) beat the Dutch Masters (5-3) one time Sunday afternoon, they’ll top the league for the second time in three seasons.
“I don’t want to get too cocky, but we’re in a position right where we want to be,” Dillman said. “We’ve got three or four quality pitchers we’re ready to throw at them to get this thing done.”
Roseman offered the Giants plenty Saturday.
The left-hander permitted just three hits in 7 1/3 innings of work and allowed a single run.
“I got as much out of (Roseman) as I could,” Dillman said. “He battled, and he kept us in the game.”
With the game tied at 1, Cargo then played hero in the top of the ninth inning after a single, error and sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third. Facing a two-strike count with two out, Cargo slapped his second hit of the game for the go-ahead and insurance tallies.
“He had a great at-bat and hit a rocket up the middle,” Dillman said. “Everything worked out like I planned that inning.”
Buckley starter Andrew Zenner, a Paxton-Buckley-Loda product, was dealt the tough-luck loss, striking out six in 7 1/3 innings.
Dillman knows more stiff opposition will be on deck Sunday against the Dutch Masters.
“We don’t take anything for granted playing Buckley,” Dillman said, “until the last out is made and the game is over.”