After seven straight playoff victories, the Swansea/Fairview Heights Giants finally tasted defeat again Wednesday in their opener at the American Legion State Tournament in Arlington Heights.
Despite taking leads of 3-0 and 8-6, the Giants were unable to close down Galesburg in an eventual 10-9 defeat at Lloyd Meyer Field.
"This was probably the worst game we've played in about 2 1/2 weeks," Swansea/Fairview Heights manager Craig Steiner said after his team fell to 32-10. "We just weren't sharp. We've got a game under our belts and got some of the butterflies out. Maybe (we) were a little too hungry to win today, it was an emotional roller-coaster."
The Giants will be facing elimination at 11 a.m. Thursday against Arlington Heights.
Things started off great for the Giants with a three-run first inning against Galesburg starter Colton German keyed by a two-run errors.
But Galesburg (34-15) came right back, jumping on Giants starter Richie Boatman for five runs in the bottom of the first and six overall in 2 1/3 innings. Boatman hit two Galesburg batters with pitches in the first and both came around to score.
Kyle Boewe was 3-for-5 with two RBIs for the Giants while Dean Gerros was 1-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Blake Deatherage was 2-for-5 with an RBI double that tied the game 9-9 in the top of the eighth
Following reliever Robert Guithues to the mound, Deatherage was working in the eighth when Galesburg put a runner aboard on a swinging bunt. Steiner and the Giants believed Deatherage had picked the runner off first, but that same runner came around to score the eventual winning run.
"We thought we had the runner picked off and the umpire called him safe," Steiner said. "We questioned the call a little bit and the very next pitch they called a balk on Blake Deatherage."
Dylan Klinck did much of the damage for Galesburg, shooting for its third Legion state title and first since 1971. He was 4-for-5 with a double, triple and three RBIs at the plate and also got the win in relief of German. Klinck allowed four hits and one run in 4 1/3 innings, striking out six without a walk.
The Giants trailed 6-4 in the third, but rallied for four runs to take a 8-6 lead in the fifth inning on run-scoring hits by Kyle Boewe and Gerros.
Collin Holton also had an RBI single for the Giants, whose last loss was a 3-1 playoff defeat against District 22 champion Metro-East Bears.
"We had them on the ropes," Steiner said. "We let them back in the game. It was a very winnable game. We shot ourselves in the foot several times today. It was a different game than we'd played the last two weeks of the season."