By MAT MIKESELL
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Ben Mero admitted the end of Saturday's first game against Moline was draining for the Quincy High School baseball team.
After QHS took a one-run lead in the bottom of the sixth, Moline answered with three runs in the seventh for a 5-3 victory. The Blue Devils came out flat in Game 2, falling 8-6 and were swept in a Western Big Six Conference doubleheader at the QHS field.
"We were eating our lunches between games and everyone was just down," Mero said. "We were chirping at each other. It wasn't a good environment to be in."
QHS (7-11, 2-4 WB6) appeared poised to take the opener after a Matt Tossick sacrifice bunt scored Mero from second base to take the lead. Tossick's bunt to the right side of the infield was picked up by Maroons pitcher Mitch Owens, who had to race to tag Tossick before he reached the bag.
That allowed Mero to keep running after rounding third base and score without a throw.
But the Maroons (11-8, 4-2) responded with a Braden Mosley RBI single to tie the game at 3. After a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk, Andy Brill line a two-run triple over the right fielder's head.
"I was just leaving a few balls up," said Quincy starting pitcher Andrew Eilers, who had allowed only two runs and five hits the first six innings. "They just hit the ball well. I was frustrated about it."
In the nightcap, the Maroons picked up where they left off.
Mosley led off with a single through the left side, stole second base, reached third on a ground ball and scored on a passed ball. With two on and two outs, Brett Newberg crushed a three-run home run to left field for a four-run first inning.
It put QHS in catch-up mode.
"That was huge for us, especially in Game 2," Moline coach Craig Schimmel said. "Every team in the league thinks if they lose the first game, they have a chance in the second. It was big for us to get a big lead and put pressure on them."
The Blue Devils got back into the game in the bottom of the third with consecutive singles by Eilers and Brad Unmisig. Two batters later, Mero launched a three-run home run to left, closing the deficit to two.
"I had struck out twice already before that and I told myself if I get a fastball I'm just going to swing as hard as I can," Mero said. "Our whole team knew we were back in the game. We just had to chip away."
QHS didn't get any closer.
Moline answered with three runs in the fourth, extending the lead back to five. The Blue Devils scored a run in the fifth and two in the sixth to close again to two.
After Mero reached on a lead-off bunt single in the seventh, Moline pitcher Cameron Fowler retired the side with two strikeouts.
Drake Green took the loss for QHS in Game 2, allowing eight runs on nine hits in four innings. He struck out two and walked two.
Along with five RBIs in the nightcap, Newberg earned the win by pitching five innings, allowing six runs on six hits and striking out six.
The sweep leaves QHS tied with Rock Island for fifth in the WB6 standings, although the Blue Devils are just two games out of first with four league games remaining.
"We have to sweep from here on out," QHS coach Brigham John said. "We still have a chance. We just have to hope someone helps us out."