SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Coming off a series victory over Bellarmine punctuated by Nick Stroud's record-setting 18-strikeout effort, the Quincy University baseball players felt confident they deserved the No. 1 ranking in the NCAA Division II Midwest Region.
The Hawks didn't play like a top team thereafter.
Friday's 7-5 loss to Drury in an elimination game at Robin Roberts Stadium abruptly ended Quincy's season. The Hawks went 3-11 and bowed out of the NCAA Tournament without winning a game for the first time since 2011.
"We kind of got in a bad slide and couldn't get out of our own way," QU coach Josh Rabe said.
The uninspiring finish included losing the opening game of a postseason tournament for the first time since 2013.
"I can't really explain it," Rabe said. "We couldn't change things or snap ourselves out of it."
The combination of lackluster starting pitching and struggles at the bottom of the order were lethal.
Stroud, the all-region right-hander, was pulled after loading the bases with no outs in the fourth. He walked six, hit one batter and uncorked two wild pitches and was charged with two runs despite allowing just one hit.
It was the fourth time in six postseason games the starter failed to last at least four full innings.
Despite that, the Hawks carried the lead into the late innings thanks to a four-run fifth in which they scored one run on a wild pitch and two runs on a fielding error.
Drury tied the game in eighth and took the lead in the ninth when Dunham crakced a two-run double with no outs that was the third straight hit QU reliever Sam Stephens allowed. Stephens was tagged with the loss, allowing two runs and four hits over 1 2/3 innings.
"They did a good job of capitalizing on the opportunities we gave them," Rabe said.
The Hawks managed just five hits, getting three from first baseman Michael Nielsen. The bottom four in the QU lineup were a combined 0 for 16 against Drury and 2 for 29 in the tournament.
"Not the way you want to go out," Rabe said.
NCAA Division II Midwest Regional
Drury 7, Quincy 5
Drury 001 110 022--7 11 1
Quincy 100 040 000--5 5 4
Schmidt, Austin (7), James (8), Helsel (9) and Ollinger; Stroud, Hammel (4), Hightower (7), Stephens (8), Sanchez (9) and Kalusniak. WP--James (1-1). LP--Stephens. 2B--Drury 3 (Fraley, Calabro, Dunham), Quincy 2 (Purcell, Nielsen).