By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Justin Tallman tried to be humble, but it was tough.
After unleashing a slider that baffled the Quincy High School baseball team's lineup, it was hard for the Quincy Notre Dame sophomore pitcher to find the right words to describe his best pitch.
"My slider was, I don't want to brag or anything, that thing was just nasty," Tallman said. "I was hitting my spots, and late in the game I was throwing heat."
Tallman got tagged early but settled in and struck out seven in six innings of work to lead the Raiders to a 5-2 win Tuesday at QHS.
It wasn't smooth sailing for Tallman early. Blue Devils senior catcher Mason Fairley crushed a 3-1 pitch over the left-field fence to lead off the game, and Ben Mero doubled in Alex Million to stake Quincy (2-5) to a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
"I was like, 'I have to bounce back, do my job and take care of my team,'" said Tallman, who improved to 1-1. "It was a 3-1 count, and I left it over the plate a little bit. I knew I had to change my routine, hit my spots and let my defense back me up."
QND senior catcher Dominic Miles wasn't worried.
"I knew he'd be fine. His slider is amazing," Miles said. "It's probably the best pitch I've ever seen. It comes right in and drops right off the table. It's a great pitch."
During the final six innings, the Blue Devils only had one hit -- a double by Million in the seventh inning -- and three base runners.
"It was only his second start. He got out of a jam in the first inning also," QND coach Chris Martin said. "We're trying to get used to him. We'll probably lengthen out his warmup sessions so he'll get into the game with a little more sweat and heat. You can see as the game goes on, in those middle innings, he's dominant."
QHS coach Brigham John said Tuesday's game was an all-too-familiar sight.
"That's what we've been doing lately is coming out (strong) and then going flat," John said. "(Tallman) has been doing what we've been preaching to these guys all year long -- hard-away, soft-away. They are just going to pitch us away, and we have yet to make an adjustment on driving that ball to right field."
The Raiders (3-1) went ahead in the third inning, scoring three runs against Blue Devils starting pitcher Reagan Kurfman. Blaine Wilson reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to third base on a double by Zach Vahle. Wilson scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 2-1. After Miles and Joey Polak walked to load the bases, Tallman hit a sacrifice fly to score Vahle to tie the game. Jordan Chapel put QND ahead 3-2 when he singled to right field, scoring Miles.
Kurfman was pulled in the fourth inning after he walked Matt Doane and Nick Dietrich. Doane scored on an error, and Miles singled in Dietrich to push the Raiders' lead to 5-2.
"Kurfman has good stuff. He really does," John said. "He's had some mental breakdowns, and we've been working on building his confidence. The first three innnings he went out and pitched well, and that fourth inning, he went out there and had some mental breakdowns. ... He's making strides every time he goes out there. As a coaching staff, we want him to take those baby steps, and I think he's been doing a great job with that, and I think toward the end of the year he's going to be right there where we need him."
The Raiders finished with four hits but didn't make any errors and generated runs by being aggressive. QND had six steals, including three by Miles.
"Just pitching and defense," Miles said of what the Raiders did to win the game. "We had no errors in the game, so I thought we did a great job of that. The bats came around late, and that's all you can ask for."