Royal Giants advance to EI finals

Bryce Lohman slides into second base while Blake Hoveln takes the throw in Sunday’s playoff game. 


The Royal Giants advanced to the Eastern Illinois baseball league finals for the second straight year. The Giants won last year. 

The Giants defeated the Gifford-Flatville Giflats who had defeated the El-Paso Warriors earlier in the day on Sunday.

The Giflats defeated the Warriors 6-2 in game one.

The scoring started for Gifford-Flatville in the second inning when Andrew Erickson came around to score after walking to lead off the inning. 

The game then broke open in the bottom of the third when the top four batter in the Giflats order came around to score. Storm Joop singled in Mike Plecki and Erickson doubled home Cade Sestak and Joop. Dan Plecki then finished off the big inning with an RBI double that scored Erickson.

The Warriors got on the board in the top of the fifth inning to cut the lead to 5-1. 

The scoring was at a standstill until Issac Denault ,scored Kaleb Denault in the bottom of eighth inning. 

The Warriors battled in the top of the ninth scoring a run ,but Giflats took the game to advance to the semis against the Giants.

The Giants struck early and often in the run rule- shortened 11-1 victory over Gifford-Flatville. 

The scoring got started in the bottom of the first when Blake Hoveln hit a two-run home-run scoring Colton Carr who doubled earlier in  the frame. 

The Giflats got their lone run in the bottom of the second on a Dan Plecki home run.

Hayden Cargo scored in the bottom of the second for the Royals after a one out single. 

Hoveln came around to score on a Roberto Gonzalez RBI double. 

The scoring then halted until the bottom of the seventh inning when Cody Flowers, Carr, Hoveln and Tom Wolken came around to score to blow the game open for the Giants. 

Carr and Hoveln came around to score again in the bottom of the eighth which ended the game due to the 10- run rule. 

The Giants will face the Buckley Dutchmasters in the three-game championship series, which will start with one game on Saturday in Gifford. The second game and the if-necessary third game will be in Buckley on Sunday. 

EI League Awards. 

Storm Joop of the Gifford-Flatville Giflats was selected as the winner of the Eastern Illinois Baseball League’s Ralph Loschen Award for most outstanding player. 

Joop finished his year hitting .519 through 52 at-bats -— which also earned him the Dick Franzen Award, which is awarded to the league’s batting champion — with 19 RBIs, a home run, four stolen bases and 15 runs scored.

Jake Stewart of the Buckley Dutchmasters was also nominated for the award at Tuesday’s league board meeting. Stewart hit .460 through 50 at-bats with seven RBIs, seven stolen bases and 18 runs scored. Cade Sestak, also of the Giflats, was selected as the winner of the Virgil Scheiwe Award for league’s most outstanding pitcher.

Sestak finished the regular season with an earned-run average of 3.27 with 33 strikeouts, a 6-2 record and one save through 44 innings pitched.

Sestak was one of five pitchers nominated for the award. Scott Runyan (2.81 ERA, 30 strikeouts, 5-1 record, 41 2/3 innings pitched) of the Buckley Dutchmasters, Will Horve (2.63 ERA, 53 strikeouts, 3-3 record, 51 1/3 innings pitched) of the Paxton Swedes, Colton Carr (1.93

ERA, 28 strikeouts, 3-2 record, 32 2/3 innings pitched) of the Royal Giants and Ben Williamson (2.51 ERA, 54 strikeouts, 3-3 record, one save, 43 innings pitched) of Game Seven Legacy were also nominated.

The individual awards will be presented prior to game two of the EI League Tournament championship series, which is scheduled to be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, at Buckley.

You can contact Ryan Birch at and on Twitter @RyanBirchRP