Buckley Dutchmasters advance to EI League Tournament championship series with 12-2 win over Arcola in semifinals

Luke Kracik, left, and Ian Benner of the Buckley Dutchmasters exchange congratulations after a run is scored during Sunday’s Eastern Illinois Baseball League Tournament semifinal game against the Arcola Riders

BUCKLEY – The Buckley Dutchmasters earned a trip to the Eastern Illinois Baseball League Tournament championship series with a 12-2 win over the Arcola Riders in the semifinals on Sunday.

After yielding a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Buckley (18-1) scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning to take a 4-2 lead.

Drake Schrodt lined a leadoff base hit to left field and advanced to second base on a wild pitch before scoring on a single to center field by Evan Regez, who finished the game hitting 3-for-3.

With one out, Ian Benner singled to right field to send Cole Eshleman – the courtesy runner for the catcher Regez – across home plate as the tying run. After Benner stole second and third base, Nathan Walker singled to left field to send Benner home to score the go-ahead run.

After Luke Kracik singled to right field, Walker crossed home plate on a Grant Pohlman sacrifice fly ball to left field.

In the second inning, Buckley added four more runs to its lead.

Schrodt hit another leadoff single to left field and stole second base before Regez lined a base hit to left field to send Schrodt across home plate and advanced to second base on an error in left field. With one out, Benner hit a single to right field to send Eshleman home for Buckley’s fifth run.

In the next at-bat, Walker – who was selected as the winner of the Ralph Loschen Award recognizing him as the EI League’s most outstanding player – hit a triple to center field to send Benner across home plate.

“Nathan just does so many different things for us,” Dutchmasters co-manager Doug Davis said. “He’s a hitter that can split the gap and hit the ball out of the ballpark. You can’t overstate the impact he has on the game. He’s an excellent player.”

Walker crossed home plate on a wild pitch to tally Buckley’s eighth run.

In the fourth inning, Kracik led off with an inside-the-park home run on a fly ball to center field. It was the first of three runs scored in the inning by the Dutchmasters as Pohlman singled to left field, Quinton Hatfill was hit by a pitch and both runners advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Trey VanWinkle before Schrodt sent Pohlman home with a single to right field.

After Cole Eshleman drew a walk, Josh Krumwiede grounded into a fielder’s choice to send Hatfill across home plate for Buckley’s 11th run.

The Dutchmasters clinched the game via the 10-run rule via a run in the sixth inning as VanWinkle lined a leadoff base hit to left field before Schrodt – who finished the game hitting 4-for-5 – singled to left field to send VanWinkle home for the game clinching run.

“It was really good to see Drake swing the bat the way he did today,” Davis said. “The first pitcher was kind of a slower pitcher, and it would have been easy for some of those guys to get a little off balance with that, but they hung in there. Drake got us off to a good start. He looked really comfortable, and that’s where we need him. We need him on base and hitting in order for us to beat Paxton.”

Schrodt, Walker and Benner combined to produce eight hits as the Dutchmasters’ starting outfielders. Benner also had two stolen bases while Schrodt added one.

“They’re what really sets us apart, in my opinion — hose guys and their ability to play defense and their ability to not just hit, but run the bases when we’re on offense,” Davis said.

Benner also pitched an inning of relief for Buckley in a 1-2-3 fourth inning as he struck out his first two batters before forcing Ramiro Gonzalez to ground out to the second baseman Krumwiede.

The Dutchmasters used three pitchers against Arcola, excluding Ethan Davis, who was selected for the Virgil Scheiwe Award recognizing him as the EI League’s most outstanding pitcher.

“(Benner) couldn’t have looked better,” Doug Davis said. “He just attacked the strike zone. It was great to see him on the mound doing as well as he did. We have two or three position players whom we talked about, at the beginning of the year, trying to give them some time on the mound. Granted, we hope our starters and our main pitchers do their job, but odds are it’s going to get down to some guys like Ian Benner and your relief pitchers to win that tournament. You’re talking about 27 innings in two days.”

Arcola (1-18) scored two runs off Buckley starting pitcher Andy Davis before Davis retired six of the Riders’ next seven plate appearances.

Trey VanWinkle pitched a couple of 1-2-3 innings to finish the game., striking out three batters in the process.

“It was great to see Trey Vanwinkle come in and just continue to be consistent and reliable,” Doug Davis said. “He’s somebody who’s going to make a big impact on whether we win the series next weekend.”

Buckley Dutchmasters 12, Arcola Riders 2

ARC 200 000 — 2 2 2

BUCK 440 301 — 12 17 1

W – Andy Davis, 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, ER, 2 K, BB. L – Gonzalez, 1.1 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 0 K, 0 BB.

Arcola (1-18) – Ramiro Gonzalez 1-3, 2B, R. Gossett R. Jeremy 1-3, RBI.

Buckley (18-1) – Drake Schrodt 4-5, 2 RBIs, 2 R. Evan Regez 3-3, 2 RBIs, R. Cole Eshleman R. Josh Krumwiede RBI. Ian Benner 2-3, 2 RBIs, 2 R. Nathan Walker 2-4, 3B, 2 RBIs, 2 R. Luke Kracik 2-4, HR, 2 RBIs, R. Grant Pohlman 2-2, RBI, R. Quinton Hatfill 1-2, R. Trey VanWinkle 1-1, R.

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