QUINCY -- Brynn Martinez had no trouble making it safely to third base on Troy Wehde's sacrifice fly to center field.
Quincy University baseball coach Josh Rabe thought he could do better.
"I just kept waving him," Rabe said. "It probably wasn't the smartest move on my part, but it ended up working out."
With a steady rain falling Saturday afternoon, making the ball and the turf infield slick, Rabe decided to send Martinez scurrying home when the throw from Truman State center fielder Mason King pulled third baseman Dan Ampleman up the line. Martinez never hesitated rounding third base and slid head first across home plate as Ampleman's throw bounced about 4 feet in front of the catcher, scoring the Hawks' first run.
"I took a chance, and the guy did throw it in the dirt," Rabe said. "It kind of got us going."
QU had allowed Truman State to score five runs in the top of the first inning, but the Hawks tied the game by the end of the second inning, took the lead in the fifth and managed to pick up a 9-7 victory in the first game of the Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader at QU Stadium.
The Hawks completed the sweep with a 14-4 victory in the nightcap behind an 18-hit attack.
"It quickly took the pressure off of us and started to put it back on Truman," Martinez said of the Hawks' response to a 5-0 deficit in the first game. "The first and second innings were about resiliency. We knew we had to score to win anyway."
And they know they have to keep winning.
Drury split its doubleheader with Missouri S&T, allowing Quincy (23-11, 11-5 GLVC) to pull within one game of the GLVC West Division lead. The Panthers (20-16, 11-3 GLVC) and the Miners finish their weekend series with a doubleheader Sunday in Rolla, Mo.
Keeping pace with Drury made sweeping the Bulldogs a must.
"Absolutely," QU second baseman Cody Birdsong said. "We needed that one bad."
A ragged start made it a challenge.
Right-handed starter Jimmy McDonald missed the strike zone on eight of his first nine pitches, walking the first two batters he faced. Truman State's Charlie Kreh followed with a two-run double to center field, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Brendan Trimble's single.
"It wasn't looking too good," Rabe said.
So he pulled McDonald after just four batters and without getting an out, summoning left-hander Sam Stephens from the bullpen.
"It's always next person up when someone is struggling," Stephens said. "But you never expect something like that. Jimmy has been really good all year. You don't expect it, but you have to be ready when you're called."
Stephens picked Trimble off first base, but walked a batter, gave up a single, hit a batter and allowed two runs on a single and sacrifice fly before getting out of the inning.
He settled in after that. Stephens pitched 4 2/3 innings, striking out seven, walking two and giving up three runs.
"He threw up some zeroes after that first inning," Rabe said. "That's what we needed. We just needed a chance to catch up."
After catching up, the Hawks finally grabbed the lead in the fifth. Michael Nielsen delivered an RBI double, Matt Hilmes drove in a run with a single and TJ Tamaccio had a run-scoring sacrifice fly for an 8-6 lead. Both teams scored in the sixth before right-hander Cole Crawford retired the Bulldogs in order in the seventh for his eighth save.
"We made enough pitches to hold onto Game 1," Rabe said.
They collected enough hits to run away with Game 2.
Birdsong hit a solo home run in the first, a two-run homer in the second and finished with three hits and four RBIs as the top of Quincy's order did a bulk of the damage.
The first four batters -- Martinez, Birdsong, Wehde and J.C. DeMuri -- combined to go 11 for 17 with 12 runs scored, nine RBIs and five extra-base hits.
"Mashing," Rabe said.
It's what Rabe had hoped to see.
"Today you could tell was going to be a good day to hit," Rabe said. "The wind wasn't howling in. It was calm to blowing out, and we just needed a chance."
The Hawks took advantage of it in a big way.
"It shows what we can do and where we should be," Martinez said. "It threw the pressure all on them."
Quincy 9, Truman State 7
Truman State 500 011 0--7 11 1
Quincy 140 031 x--9 10 0
Wade, Forck (5) and Edell; McDonald, Stephens (1), Pribyl (5), Crawford (6) and Hightower. WP--Pribyl (3-1). LP--Wade (0-3). S--Crawford (8). 2B--Truman State 1 (Kreh), Quincy 2 (Martinez, Nielsen).
Quincy 14, Truman State 4
Truman State 111 010 0--4 8 2
Quincy 330 160 1--14 18 0
Clark, Bagenstos (4), Woodmansee (5), Blackington (7) and Schneider; Martin, Moriarty (5), Grieshaber (7) and Viaene. WP--Moriarty (4-0). LP--Clark (2-6). 2B--Truman State 1 (Trimble), Quincy 3 (Martinez, DeMuri, Tamaccio). HR--Quincy 4 (Martinez, Birdsong, Wehde, Purcell).