PAXTON -- With a 12-4 loss to Monticello on Monday, Paxton-Buckley-Loda's season-opening win streak was snapped at 14.
The Panthers lost their first game due in large part to 10 runs put up by the Sages through the first three innings.
“You can't win them all. You just hate to lose in that fashion," PBL head coach Rick Johnson said. "You hate to lose, but sometimes the loss makes you wake up and say, 'Hey, maybe we do need to do little things a little bit better.'”
Monticello started its scoring with four runs in the first inning. Nathan Graham led off with a base hit and advanced to second base on a wild pitch before Alek Bundy singled to center field to send Graham home.
After Bundy advanced to second and third base on two wild pitches and Alex Marquardt walked, Luke Stokowski hit an RBI single. Mitch Carr then tripled to center field to send Stokowski home before scoring on a wild pitch.
In the bottom of the first inning, Dalton Coplea singled on a line drive to center field for PBL before Cole Eshleman hit into a fielder's choice. Andrew Zenner then singled to put runners on the corners, but Kaleb Denault struck out to end the inning.
The Sages (12-4) scored five more runs in the second inning.
Graham walked before advancing to second base on a balk. Stokowski then hit an RBI single to send Graham home.
Carr then doubled to left field to send Stokowski home before Denault was relieved on the mound by Mitch St. Peter.
Denault took the pitching loss for PBL, allowing seven earned run on six hits while walking three batters in 1 2/3 innings pitched.
Tim Rudolph and Nick Hopper each walked before Brody Macak hit a two-RBI single to left field. In the next at-bat, Mitch Rhoades hit an RBI double to right field.
Following Rhoades' double, St. Peter was relieved on the mound by Luis Rodriguez after allowing two earned runs on two hits and two walks.
By the game's end, PBL used four pitchers.
Rodriguez allowed two runs -- one earned -- on two hits while striking out one batter and walking two through 3 1/3 innings. Mason Ecker allowed one earned run on three hits and three walks.
“Give them some credit – they hit the heck out of the ball in the first two or three innings," Johnson said. “We came out a little flat. We were flat in the infield."
The Sages added another run in the third inning as Bundy hit a leadoff double to left field before stealing third base and crossing home plate.
The Panthers (14-1) scored all of their four runs in the bottom of the third inning.
Cole Eshleman led off the inning with a single to left field and Cooper Johnson walked before Zenner reached base on an error, resulting in Eshleman crossing home plate.
Denault then hit a sacrifice fly ball to center field to send Johnson across home plate.
Jaxson Coplea reached base as Sages catcher Rudolph failed to catch an infield fly ball before Rodriguez singled on a line drive to right field to send Zenner across home plate.
Keaton Krumwiede then singled to center field to send Keyn Humes -- who ran as a courtesy for the catcher Jaxson Coplea -- home for PBL's fourth run.
The Panthers would finish the day with seven hits as a team.
"The only thing I was really disappointed in was we had some at-bats that were not very good as far as taking fastballs and getting ourselves in a hole in the count and then having to swing at borderline pitches," Rick Johnson said.
In the fifth inning, Stokowski reached base on an error, Jakob Pokorny reached on a catcher's interference and Rudolph walked to load the bases before Hopper drew a bases-loaded walk to extend the Sages' lead to 11-4.
Monticello also had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth inning, but a 6-4-3 double play ended the threat. Graham then hit an RBI single in the seventh inning for the Sages.
The Panthers' game against Monticello was their third in as many days. After winning 2-0 over St. Joseph-Ogden (13-5) on Monday, PBL won 15-3 over a Cissna Park team that fell to a record of 2-11 with the loss.
"It's hard to go from playing the highest level of baseball to the lowest, then back to the highest. I'm not saying Cissna Park's the lowest, but coach (Darryl Focken) would tell you they're having a bad year," Johnson said.
"It's hard to go from playing the best to the worst to the best. It's hard to get yourself back up to do that, and we didn't respond today."
The Panthers will face Cissna Park again on Thursday.
“Hopefully, we'll get better pitching tomorrow and come out and play better than we did today," Johnson said. "It happens.”
PBL will then host a game against Bismarck-Henning that, Johnson said, the Panthers hope to win to help them gain a higher sub-sectional seed for the IHSA postseason.
“The Bismarck game will be big for us," Johnson said. "It'll be important.”
Monticello 12, PBL 4
MON 451 010 1 -- 12 13 2
PBL 004 000 0 -- 4 7 4
W -- 3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 2 K, BB. L -- Kaleb Denault, 1.2 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 0 K, 3 BB.
Monticello (12-4) -- Nathan Graham 2-5, RBI, 2 R. Alek Bundy 2-5, 2B, RBI, 2 R. Luke Stokowski 3-5, RBI, 3 R. Mitch Carr 2-3, 2B, 3B, RBI, 2 R. Asher Bradd 1-2, R. Nick Hopper RBI, R. Brody Macak 2-4, 2 RBIs, R. Mitch Rhoades 1-2, 2B, RBI.
PBL (14-1) -- Dalton Coplea 1-3. Cole Eshleman 1-3, R. Cooper Johnson 1-3, R. Andrew Zenner 1-4, R. Jaxson Coplea 1-1, R. Luis Rodriguez 1-2, RBI. Keaton Krumwiede 1-3, RBI. Kaleb Denault RBI.