Paxton Swedes swept in EI League season-opening doubleheader; Royal Giants win 15-14 in extra innings in game two

PAXTON -- Paxton Swedes player/manager Mark Prina says he is "cautiously optimistic" about his 2018 Eastern Illinois Baseball League squad.
 
The Swedes are hoping to improve from their 4-18 and 5-18 records in 2017 and 2016, respectively.
 
"If we can get these guys to commit to being here regularly, I think you'll see improvement in our overall record," Prina said. 
 
"I don't know if we'll be one of the top two teams in the league, but I think we'll be more in the middle of the pack, instead of the basement dwellers that we've been for the past couple of years. Hopefully, it'll all play out and we'll keep showing up and competing."
 
One thing that may not help Paxton in its cause is the departure of Adam Carver, the EI League's Most Outstanding Pitcher award winner in 2015 and 2016, to the Royal Giants.
 
Carver started game one of Sunday's doubleheader against the Swedes, which the Giants won 7-3. 
 
"He just decided to go a different route with a different team this year. It's understandable," Prina said. "We haven't been very good in the last couple of years. It's fine. We have some guys coming, so we'll be fine."
 
In game two, Paxton scored six runs in the second inning to take a 7-4 lead, but would lose 15-14 in eight innings. 
 
"We had control of it for a while, but we just kind of ran out of pitching," Prina said. 
 
Curtis Norman scored a run on a passed ball in the first inning as the Swedes ended the inning trailing 3-1.
 
The Swedes' six-run effort in the bottom of the second inning erased a 4-1 deficit as Tristan Wolfe and Alan Paul each hit a two-RBI single.
 
Dalton Webber walked before scoring on a Colin Sullivan RBI single in the fourth inning. In the fifth inning, Tristan Wolfe scored a run on a wild pitch after reaching base on a fielder's choice.
 
A Paxton error led to two runs scored by Royal in the sixth inning before a sacrifice fly ball led to the tying run crossing home plate.
 
"That has something to do with not having all of our regular players here. People were playing out of position," Prina said. "We had guys in the outfield who can't run as well, and stuff like that." 
 
In the top of the seventh inning, Carver led off with a triple before Roberto Gonzalez hit an RBI single to give Royal a 10-9 lead.
 
The Swedes scored the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
 
Wolfe hit a one-out infield single and reached second base on a passed ball. After Webber walked and Norman reached base on a fielder's choice, Wolfe crossed home plate on a passed ball to tie the game.
 
Norman reached third base on the same passed ball, but would be left stranded as Paul popped up to end the inning.
 
"We were a passed ball away from winning it," Prina said.
 
Norman was on the mound for a top of the eighth inning in which the Giants scored five runs. 
 
Cord Church sent two runs home with a base hit to left field for Royal before another run scored on a passed ball and two more runs were tallied via an error.
Norman was the fourth pitcher used by the Swedes in game two.
 
"Both teams were thin today because we've just got so many guys still playing college baseball, and the high school seasons aren't all over yet at the big-school level," Prina said. "Both teams were shorthanded, and that's why the score was the way it was. We had guys pitching who really aren't pitchers, but both teams competed."
 
The Swedes tried to rally back as they put up four runs of their own in the bottom of the eighth inning.
 
Prina walked and Mark Miller singled to left field. With two outs, both runners advanced into scoring position on a passed ball before Charlie Due singled to right field to send Prina across home plate.
 
Wolfe then singled to left field to send Miller home before Webber walked and Norman reached base on an error on which Due crossed home plate. 
Paul then drew a bases-loaded walk to make the score 15-14.
 
"You think the game's over when they get five (runs) in the top of the eighth (inning), but we didn't quit, so that was good. We took advantage of their mistakes and had a chance to win it," Prina said. "I'll take that chance every time."
 
The rally fell short, however, as Prina hit into a fielder's choice to end the game.
 
"If my ball gets five feet more to the hole, it's through, and we win," Prina said. "That's baseball. I hit it pretty well. I just didn't quite get the full barrel on it. It wasn't hit quite hard enough to escape through (the infield). It was fun to have that chance."
 
The Swedes finished the game with eight hits, including a 3-for-4 effort from Sullivan and a 2-for-5 outing from Wolfe.
 
"Our approach at the plate was pretty good. We put the ball in play all day long," Prina said. "From that standpoint, I was pleased with the offense."
 
Overall, Paxton scored 17 runs in the doubleheader.
 
"We haven't done that in a long time, so that was a good sign," Prina said.
 
The Swedes finished game one with five hits as Dalton Webber hit 2-for-5. 
 
They scored their lone game-one runs in the sixth inning as Jacob Bender and Mark Miller each drew a walk before Colin Sullivan and Tristan Wolfe each hit an RBI single. Miller crossed home plate on a wild pitch.
 
"We had our chances there in the first game," Prina said.
 
The score was tied 3-3 after six innings before Carver scored what would be the game-winning run on a Gonzalez RBI single. The Giants scored three insurance runs in the ninth inning as Carver, Blake Hoveln and Gonzalez each crossed home plate.
 
Sullivan allowed only two earned runs for the Swedes on the mound in game one.
 
"Sullivan threw a heck of a ballgame for us," Prina said. "He's shown that he can pitch in this league, so that was a good sign."
 
The Swedes are scheduled to travel to Parkland College to face the Champaign Dream next Sunday.
 
"We'll have a lot more of our guys back next week," Prina said. "We'll have some more pitching and some college players who have been playing all spring. That'll help us a lot and get guys back into normal positions, so we'll look a lot better in the field defensively."
 
Game 1
Royal 7, Paxton 3
ROY 010   110   103   -- 7   6   1
PAX 000   003   000   -- 3   5   4
W -- Carver. L -- Sullivan. 
Royal -- Gonzalez 4-5, 2 RBIs, 2 R. Carver RBI, 2 R. Flowers R. Hoveln 1-4, 2B, R. Wolken 2-5, R. Meredith 1-4. 
Paxton -- Colin Sullivan 1-4, RBI, R. Mark Miller 1-3, R. Jacob Bender R, 2 BB. Tristan Wolfe 1-5, RBI. Dalton Webber 2-5.
Game 2
Royal 15, Paxton 14
ROY 311   103   15   -- 15  14  2   
PAX 160   110   14   -- 14   8    4 
L -- Curtis Norman.
Royal (2-0) -- Church 3-5, 2 RBIs, 3 R. Carver 3-6, 3B, RBI, 2 R. Hoveln 1-4, 2B, RBI, 2 R. Gonzales 3-5, 2 RBIs. Wolken 1-4, 2B, R. Meredith 2-4, RBI, 2 R. White 1-3, 2 R. Glad R, 3 BB. Dillman 2-5, RBI, 2 R.
Paxton (0-2) -- Charlie Due 1-5. McClure R. Colin Sullivan 3-4, RBI, R. Mark Miller 1-4, R. Mark Prina R. Alan Paul 1-4, 3 RBIs, R. Curtis Norman 1-4, RBI, 2 R. Dalton Webber 2 R, 3 BB. Tristan Wolfe 2-5, 3 RBIs, 3 R.
Categories (3):Prep Sports, Baseball, Sports

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