College Baseball

Walters' double in ninth ends late night for Hawks

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 19, 2017 3:45 pm

MIDLAND, Mich. -- The chilly, heavy late-night air probably kept the ball Jake Walters smashed from leaving Gerace Stadium.

It didn't dampen the reaction from his teammates.

The Quincy University second baseman launched a double off the wall in left-center field with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday night, driving in Brynn Martinez with the winning run as the third-seeded Hawks walked off with a 4-3 victory over sixth-seeded Wayne State in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional.

The Hawks, who overcome two- and one-run deficits to be tied going into the ninth, charged out of the dugout to celebrate their fifth straight postseason victory.

"In the end, you just have to do whatever it takes to win a ballgame, and that's what we did," Walters said.

The game officially ended at 12:28 EST, but the Hawks get a slight reprieve with their second-round matchup not scheduled to start until 8:30 p.m. Friday. Quincy (33-20) will face seventh-seeded Saint Joseph's (35-20) for a shot to reach the winner's bracket finals. The Pumas, who beat the Hawks 7-1 in the season opener on Feb. 17 in Millington, Tenn., beat second-seeded Southern Indiana 5-4 on Thursday.

"At least we don't have a night-day turnaround," Walters said. "We can get some sleep."

They don't have to prep to face a first-team all-conference arm while they're at it.

Wayne State right-hander Chris Horvath, who came into the game with a 2.99 earned-run average, tied up the Hawks for the better part of eight innings. He was pulled after giving up a two-out single in the eighth with a 3-2 lead. At that point, he had struck out nine, walked three, allowed four hits and thrown 131 pitches.

"We put together a lot of good at-bats and drove his pitch count up," Walters said.

The Hawks took advantage of the Warriors' bullpen.

Jack Klages greeted All-GLIAC reliever Taylor Horn with a single, and Nolan Snyder walked on four straight pitches to load the bases. Chandler Purcell thought he had drawn a game-tying walk when a 3-1 slider was called a strike, but he kept his composure and stared down another oh-so-close pitch to get the walk and force in the run.

"It was a tough, lefty-on-lefty changeup, and (Purcell) took it," QU coach Josh Rabe said. "It was a great at-bat."

Arguably the most important one of the game.

"If we don't have that at-bat, we probably don't win that ballgame," Walters said.

T.J. Tamaccio nearly gave the Hawks the lead in the next at-bat when he drove the ball to the right-field warning track before it was caught for the final out of the inning.

"I thought that was going to score three runs," Rabe said. "It was one of the best swings I've ever seen that kid take. The ball just kind of hung up."

The same thing sort of happened to Walters.

"Honestly, I thought it was gone," he said.

It didn't need to be to back a solid start by freshman left-hander Riley Martin and solid work from the bullpen.

Martin went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out eight. Three relievers -- William Sanchez, Alex Pribyl and Cole Crawford -- followed to keep Wayne State in check until the offense capitalized.

"We just had to figure it out," Rabe said. "We haven't won too many of those games this year where we've had to do that, but we figured out a way to win that game."

NCAA Division II Midwest Regional

Quincy 4, Wayne State 3

Wayne State 200 000 010--3 8 3

Quincy 001 010 011--4 6 0

Horvath, Horn (8), Thompson (8) and Kelly; Martin, Sanchez (7), Pribyl (8), Crawford (9) and Klages. WP--Crawford (2-2). LP--Thompson (1-2). 2B--Wayne State 2 (Kelly, Conti), Quincy 2 (Walters, Purcell). HR--Wayne State 1 (Kelly).