By THE HERALD-WHIG STAFF
INDIANAPOLIS -- Quincy University baseball coach Josh Rabe didn't want his players to look at this weekend's series against nationally-ranked Indianapolis as a make-or-break moment in the Great Lakes Valley Conference title chase.
Still, the skipper knew the Hawks had a chance to reaffirm the notion they are one of the teams to beat. Saturday, they made that abundantly clear.
Peter Cunningham's RBI single in the top of the 10th inning helped Quincy rally for a 5-4 victory in the first game of a doubleheader, and a five-run fifth inning in the nightcap sent the Hawks to an 8-2 victory and a sweep of the No. 8 Greyhounds.
"Our guys persevered," Rabe said. "And we played two pretty sound ballgames."
Quincy (7-4, 2-0 GLVC) and Indianapolis (7-4, 0-2) will complete the four-game series with a doubleheader Sunday.
"It's supposed to cold and snowing," Rabe said. "That's spring baseball."
The game has its quirks no matter the time of year.
In the opener, the Hawks scratched across a run in the top of the ninth when Gordan Gundaker scored on Adam Hightower's triple to go ahead 4-2. However, Indy didn't die. Mitch Ransburg led off with a home run to right field. After a pitching change, a walk and a strikeout left a runner on first when Indy's Scott Lawley hit a comebacker.
QU's Matt Fishman fielded the ball as Lawley tumbled coming out of the batter's box. Momentarily distracted, Fishman turned and overthrew second base as he tried to start a double play. However, QU second baseman Drake Austin caught the high throw and was able to force Lawley out at first base.
"Drake made a miraculous catch," Rabe said.
Unfortunately, the Greyhounds' Anthony Asalon singled in the next at-bat to drive in the tying run and send the game to extra innings.
In the top of the 10th, Austin doubled to center field with two out. And after a walk set up a force out at second and third, Cunningham ripped a single to right-center to plate the winning run.
Tim Haley worked the 10th inning for the save, striking out Bryce Feller for the final out with runners on second and third.
Clayton Hicks got a no-decision despite allowing just two runs -- neither was earned -- and three hits over seven innings. He struck out four and walked three.
"Clayton was awesome," Rabe said.
In the nightcap, Matt McDaniel was tough.
The QU right-hander starter walked seven and hit two batters, but he allowed just one hit and two unearned runs over 5 1/3 innings.
"He was amagician and worked out of a couple jams," Rabe said.
The offense worked out some kinks, too.
Held hitless by Indy's Hugo Lalonde for four innings, the Hawks exploded with a five-run fifth inning. It featured back-to-back-back run-scoring singles by Hightower, Kenny May and Joe Williams.
Nick Tindall hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning to finish off the Greyhounds.
Ryan Richardson went 2 for 4 with two runs scored for the Hawks, who had eight players collect at least one hit in the nightcap.
The Hawks had 11 hits in the opener, getting two apiece from Mitchell Broughton, Tindall, Drake and Cunningham.
"We hit the ball on the nose all day long," Rabe said.