QUINCY -- The Quincy University baseball players want to stay "right there."
Right there between the run-scoring highs and the hit-surrendering lows. Right there confidence-wise whether they win their opening game of this week's NCAA Division II Midwest Regional or lose to fourth-seeded Ohio Dominican. Right there when it comes to the chance to win a region title and return to the D-II championships, held this year in Cary, N.C.
"We know that we can get humbled at any point," junior left fielder Chandler Purcell said. "Baseball is a weird game like that. If you get too high, someone can come back and you get burned. If you get too low, you've already put yourself out of that game if you're down.
"It's important to just stay right there. If you don't, you'll get humbled."
The Hawks are humble enough to know they have to put in the work and effort to make a regional title run happen.
Quincy (39-16) and Ohio Dominican (32-15) meet at 10 a.m. Thursday at Robin Roberts Stadium in Springfield in the regional's first game. It takes a minimum of four victories to win the championship of the double-elimination bracket, although the Hawks needed five last year as they fought through the loser's bracket to capture the program's first region championship.
"Winning the first game and getting into the winner's bracket is pretty important," said sophomore left-hander Riley Martin, who will get the start Thursday. "We have to go out there and take care of business."
The Hawks haven't wavered from that approach. They keep it right there.
"It's kind of become our motto," sophomore designated hitter Michael Nielsen said. "We're going to ride it out. We're going to ride the waves. It's what our pitchers are going to do and what our defense is going to do. We're going to pick everyone up. Everyone is going to hit. It's going to be a matter of time.
"It's not if, it's when -- when we score, when we take the lead, when we make a big play."
The Hawks have been pretty good at doing all of those.
In winning last weekend's Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament, Quincy scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning or later in three of its four victories. The Hawks have scored in one of their final two at-bats in 13 of the 24 games this season decided by two or fewer runs.
"We didn't panic," Purcell said. "We stayed level."
They trusted the bullpen to keep it close. The pitching staff trusted the offense to come alive.
"It's just the feeling through everybody," Martin said. "We know we can do it. We have the ability to come back and rally if we have to. We know we have to stick with it and stay even keel."
The Hawks won the GLVC Tournament and the Midwest Region championships a year ago, winning four one-run games and beating Northwood 2-0 in the region title game. They've reached the Midwest Region tournament four straight years.
"There's no substitute for experience," QU coach Josh Rabe said. "We've got a lot of guys who have played in postseasons. They know there is time off. They know there are quick turnarounds. You've got to stay even keel."
That's especially true of the pitching staff.
"Limit the big innings," Rabe said. "You know the other team is probably going to score. You can't get too high or too low about it. You keep chugging along, and in the end, we usually find a way to figure it out."