BUCKLEY — After a one-year absence, the Buckley Dutchmasters will play in the Eastern Illinois Baseball League championship game.
With a 4-2 victory on Sunday over Game Seven Legacy, the Dutchmasters will look to win their fourth tournament title in five years as they play in the best-of-three title series next weekend.
“That’s always our goal when we start the season. We want to be there at the end,” Dutchmasters manager Ryne Scheiwe said. “We want to play the last game. We want to be out there when that last out’s made. We put ourselves in a good position to do that next weekend, and I like our chances.”
Trey Russell, a 10-year member of the Dutchmasters who was a part of their tournament championship three-peat from 2015-17, did not play for Buckley (17-4) last year. While he worked in Baltimore, the Dutchmasters were eliminated in the tournament semifinals by the Royal Giants.
On Sunday, Russell helped Buckley get over the semifinal hump in a big way when he lined a two-RBI triple to center field in the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie.
“It feels good to be back in another championship for Buckley,” Russell said.
Going into the semifinal game against the Legacy (9-12), Buckley already appeared to have a pitching advantage. In its 6-4 victory over the Paxton Swedes in the quarterfinals played earlier Sunday, Game Seven used four pitchers, including its ace in Ben Williamson. The Dutchmasters started their ace, Scott Runyan, in the semifinals.
Despite a deeper bullpen, Runyan pitched a complete game, striking out nine batters while allowing two unearned runs on six hits and one walk through all nine innings.
“It was a good defense behind me. I just pitched to contact and let the defense work,” Runyan said. “If we needed to go into the bullpen, we had great guys back there, and they’ll be ready to go next week because we’re going to need them.”
After drawing a leadoff walk in the first inning, Jake Stewart scored on a Legacy throwing error. Evan Regez hit a single to right field before his courtesy runner, Cole Eshleman, crossed home plate on a Drew Schrodt sacrifice fly ball to left field.
“We got on them early, which was good,” Scheiwe said.
Game Seven scored its two runs in the fourth inning as Jeff Wileavor reached base on an error by Buckley shortstop Jay Eshleman. Another error by third baseman Mitch Rhoades on a ground ball hit by Gabe Soria led to Wileavor crossing home plate.
Hopp singled to left field before scoring the tying run on a TrevorFroehling groundout.
“We had a few errors, but they didn’t lead to anything,” Runyan said.
Runyan retired six of the Legacy’s last seven batters, including two strikeouts in the ninth.
“(Runyan) tends to get better as he goes,” Scheiwe said. “Not that I don’t have guy out of the bullpen that I want to put out there, but he kept saying he felt good. That’s just the type of guy he is. He battles for us. He’s been doing it all year.”
Carr stars for Giants. While the Royal Giants didn’t need much to win their semifinal tournament game against Gifford-Flatsville on Sunday, no one had a tighter grip on the game than Colton Carr.
Carr, a former N-G All-Area first-team pitcher for St. Joseph-Ogden, tossed eight innings of one-run ball to key the Giants to an 11-1 victory that put Royal in next weekend’s best-of-three championship series against the Buckley Dutchmasters.
Carr also helped his own cause with three hits on the day — equaling the total produced by the Giflats in their season-ending loss.
The Giflats started their day off on a positive note, defeating the El Paso Warriors behind home-field advantage at Franzen Park in Gifford.
The same field, though, didn’t lend its luck in the latter game with the Giflats struggling to keep up apart from a second-inning run that cut the Giants’ early lead to 2-1.
Those early runs for Royal were plated on the power of one player’s bat, as Blake Hoveln fired two home runs in the opening inning. He finished his day with three hits.
Leading 4-1 after six innings, the Giants tallied four runs in the seventh and another three in the eighth.