By THE HERALD-WHIG STAFF
ROMEOVILLE, Ill. -- Quincy University baseball coach Josh Rabe felt if the Hawks let fatigue be a factor, a three-day, six-game road trip could be disastrous.
It was far from it.
By sweeping Tuesday's doubleheader at Lewis, QU emerged from the stretch with a 5-1 record and enhanced its chance of making the NCAA Division II Tournament field.
"The guys locked in," said Rabe, whose team relied on its bullpen strength to sweep Lewis 5-2 and 10-9. "They really locked in and got it done."
Last week, the Hawks (27-15) were seventh in the Midwest Region rankings with only the top six earning national tournament bids. Lewis (26-13) was ranked third, but the Flyers have lost six in a row. They were swept in a four-game weekend series by Saint Joseph's, which was fifth in the region.
"You'd like to think they can't get in the tournament ahead of you if you continue to take care of business," Rabe said. "That's what we have to do."
The Hawks finish the regular season with a four-game series this weekend against Missouri-St. Louis at QU-Stadium. The Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament begins May 9 with NCAA regionals beginning May 16.
"We went through a rough stretch," Rabe said. "But we've played seven good baseball games in a row."
That's due in large part to the pitching.
Three QU starters -- Clayton Hicks, Charlie Kapala and Brandon Ley -- tossed complete games as the Hawks won 3 of 4 against Maryville to start the road trip. That left a rested bullpen to shut down the Flyers.
In the opener, Lewis scored two runs in three-plus innings against QU starter Nick Stroud, but right-handed reliever Matt Fishman was almost unhittable. He gave up just one hit over four scoreless innings, striking out four and walking none.
"Great effort," Rabe said.
The offense gave him a cushion.
A two-run single by Peter Cunningham in third inning put the Hawks up 3-1, while Adam Hightower added an RBI groundout in the fifth and an RBI double in the seventh. Nolan Rappe went 3 for 4 for QU, while Cunningham and Nick Tindall both had two hits.
In the nightcap, the Hawks needed all the offense they could muster.
Leading 6-2 after 2 1/2 innings, QU pulled tug-o-war with the advantage before Lewis pulled ahead 9-8 with a run in the bottom of the sixth.
Undaunted by the deficit, QU rallied. Hightower led off with a single to right field and took second on a wild pickoff attempt. Cunningham followed with a single to left-center field, plating Hightower with the tying run.
After a fielder's choice, a stolen base and a strikeout, Ryan Richardson singled up the middle to plate Zach Knese with a go-ahead run.
QU closer Teddy Rule worked around a double in the bottom of the seventh by striking out the side for his fifth save.
Tim Haley earned his first victory of the season, working two innings of relief and giving up one run and three hits. He struck out one and walked none.
"The key today was our bullpen," Rabe said. "They got it done."
Cunningham went 4 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs, while Kenny May had two hits and two runs, while Nick Tindall hit his ninth homer of the season.
"It's a pretty good stretch we've had," Rabe said. "We have to keep taking care of business."