QUINCY -- Pat Robles wanted to save pitching for this weekend.
The Quincy Gems manager felt comfortable putting position players Kal Youngquist and Sean Klein on the bump in relief as his team had a 10-run lead on the Hannibal Hoots after four innings.
That plan nearly backfired.
Hannibal rallied for eight runs over the final three innings off Youngquist and Klein, before Quincy finally shut the door on an 11-8 Prospect League victory Friday night at QU Stadium. It sets up a crucial two-game series against the DuPage Pistol Shrimp, who are tied with the Gems for second place in the West Division standings.
"That almost did (backfire)," Robles said. "But I knew we'd be able to swing it and be ready to go."
Quincy's early runs proved just enough. The Gems (18-15) got them through the long ball.
Tyler Clark-Chiapparelli hit the first of four Quincy home runs when he smashed a no-doubt three-run shot in the top of the second inning that gave the Gems a 5-0 advantage. Youngquist unloaded on a pitch in the fourth that went over the right field wall, and Kyle Crowl hit a two-run shot two batters later to left for a 10-0 lead.
Crowl's homer was his 10th of the season, which ties him for the league lead with Normal's Jack Butler.
Ryan Ignoffo hit the Gems' fourth dinger of the game in the top of the ninth. That run was needed as the Hoots (8-21) rallied in the bottom half of the frame.
Joe Roscetti got the Hoots on the board with an RBI single in the seventh, and Kellan Murray followed with an RBI groundout to make it 10-2. In the eighth, Grant Hannant's inside-the-park home run highlighted a three-run inning.
Roscetti hit a solo home run off the right field foul pole to lead off the ninth inning, and Hannant had a two-run double that made it 11-8 and brought the tying run to the plate.
Hannibal's Austin Wood, however, flew out to right to end the game.
"That wasn't the plan to do that," said Youngquist, who allowed five runs on five hits in two innings. "I had offered to throw to save some arms, and I'm a competitor. We just had to get the outs before they got too many runs."
Hannibal nearly did.
"We just had to go up there with the same approach," Roscetti said. "Whenever you have another team throwing a position player, it usually means things are going good or going bad. I know why they did, but you just have to take advantage."
Quincy finished with 11 hits, led by Crowl's three. He along with Clark-Chiapparelli each had four RBIs.
"The power is starting to come around," Robles said. "I think guys are getting their timing down and better swings."
The Hoots had 11 hits as Hannant had four with three RBIs.