By Mat Miksell
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Brandon Ley knew the Quincy Gems needed to bounce back after losing to Danville on Friday night.
On Saturday night, Ley threw a complete-game shutout in a 7-0 win in Game 2 of a Prospect League doubleheader sweep against rival Hannibal Cavemen at QU-Stadium. Quincy won Game 1 4-2.
"The game in Danville last night was tough luck," Ley said. "These two wins should set us in a good streak where we can play solid baseball."
Ley wasn't the only pitcher to throw well in Game 2. The Cavemen's Dustin Lawson took a no-hitter into the fifth inning.
The no-hitter was broken on a double Jake Ivory hit into the gap in right field to put Ryan Light on third. Light reached on an error by shortstop Mattingly Romanin.
The Gems (23-11) broke up the scoreless game later in the inning when Caleb Howell hit a two-out, bases-loaded bloop single off of Lawson over Romanin to score Light and Ivory.
The sixth inning was worse for the Cavemen (15-18) as Lawson started the inning by hitting Thomas Richards, walking Bryan Niedbalski and giving up a single to Light to load the bases.
Stuart Levy hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored Richards. Ivory, the last batter Lawson faced, struck out.
Jamell Blue entered for Hannibal and walked Eric Maki to load the bases. Devin Pickett followed with another walk to score Niedbalski.
Howell singled again to nearly the same spot as the fifth inning to score Light. That was followed by another run-scoring single by Steven Pallares.
The Gems batted around in the inning, and Richards reached base on a catcher's interference call that scored Pickett to complete the five-run inning.
The run support allowed Ley to polish off the seven-inning game.
"When you're ahead, it opens the door to so many things," Ley said. "You don't have to use your secondary pitches as much. You just focus on throwing strikes because you know you're in line for the win."
Game 1 featured a pitching matchup between two players selected to the Prospect League West Division's all-star team in Quincy's Josh Martsching and Hannibal's Travis McDonald.
The Cavemen scored in the first inning when Zach Nichols launched a towering two-run home run to left field.
The Gems responded two innings later with a line drive two-run home run by Niedbalski to left that tied the game at 2.
"That's one of the best pitchers in the league they had up there," Niedbalski said. "I was just trying to get a pitch to hit early. I was able to jump on the fastball."
Niedbalski gave the Gems the lead in the fifth inning with an RBI double off the bottom of the wall in left field that scored Pallares. Levy hit a single down the left-field line to score Niedbalski after Light moved him to third on a ground out to Trevor Kenyon at third.
"It kind of sparked us," Gems manager Chris Martin said. "I felt like after that we kept getting better as the game went on."
The sweep against the Cavemen was a nice way for the Gems to respond after losing 5-4 to Danville (22-11) on Friday night by giving up two runs in the bottom of the ninth.
The wins also tied the "Battle of the Paddle" series against the Cavement at four games a piece.
"(Hannibal) has had our number all year," Niedbalski said. "Those were two big wins for us."
The Gems hold a half-game lead over the Dans for first place in the West Division. Danville beat Terre Haute 7-1 on Saturday.
"We're at the point in the season where any win is important," Martin said. "I was proud of them of the way we bounced back after last night."