Prospect League

Sultans of Swat: Gems set single season home run record in win over Sliders

Quincy's assistant coach, Brad Powell, celebrates with Tyler Clark-Chiapparelli by playing 'rock, paper, scissors' as the center fielder runs the bases after a home run at a Prospect League game against Springfield at QU Stadium on Friday, Jul. 19, 2019. | H-W Photo/Katelyn Metzger
Katelyn Metzger 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 20, 2019 1:10 am Updated: Jul. 20, 2019 1:11 am

QUINCY -- Joey Polak came to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning with a runner on base and his Quincy Gems down 3-1 to the Springfield Sliders.

In just one pitch Polak changed the entire outlook of the game, as he sent the ball over the wall in left-center field at QU Stadium and tied things at 3.

Tyler Clark-Chiapparelli was up next and he, too, took his first pitch over the left-center wall -- almost exactly where Polak blasted his homer -- and all of a sudden Quincy was up 4-3.

That sequence sparked an incredible four innings for the Gems, as they scored 17 runs in the final four innings on the way to beating Springfield 18-5 in their Prospect League meeting Friday night.

"I was just trying to get a good at-bat. We started off a little slow having the last two days off, so I was looking for a good pitch to hit and it just went out," said Polak, the 2016 Herald-Whig Player of the Year and Missouri State University redshirt junior.

Neither Polak nor Clark-Chiapparelli were done for the night. In the sixth inning, Polak came up again, this time right after Drew Behling hit a two-run homer to make it a 6-4 lead. Once again, one pitch was all Polak needed to go yard, hitting a monster shot over the scoreboard in right-center field.

"Honestly, I was sitting off-speed because when you hit a home run normally they pitch a little differently to you the next at-bat," Polak said of his second homer. "I was sitting slider and he threw me a fastball in a good spot, and I just got a good barrel on it."

After Clark-Chiapparelli followed with a single and Kyle Crowl drew a walk, Cade Schares delivered the third home run of the inning, this one a huge hit off the batter's eye in dead center field.

That dinger was special, not just because it gave the Gems (25-19) a 10-3 lead, but because it tied the single-season team home run record in the Prospect League at 76.

"I just went up there and wanted to hit the ball hard. That's always my goal," Schares said of his third home run of the season.

Two innings later Clark-Chiapparelli broke the tie when he smacked a grand slam over the left-field fence in the eighth, marking the 77th Gems home run of the year.

"In the back of our minds, we knew how close we were to the home run record," said Clark-Chiapparelli, whose 15 home runs lead the Prospect League. "We didn't really want to talk about it, but coming down with me and Joey and Cade hitting those three and Behling hitting one, toward the end we knew it was a good chance.

"We are having fun, that's what this is all about. It was a good night."

Clark-Chiapparelli finished things off by throwing a 1-2-3 ninth inning on the mound, ending the game with back-to-back Springfield strikeouts. Both he and Polak were 5 for 6 with two home runs, four runs scored and five RBIs, while Schares was 2 for 5 with four RBIs and Behling went 2 for 5 with four runs.

"That's the guys we have, that's what they like to do and that's what we as a coaching staff like to do as well," Gems hitting coach Brad Powell said.

Schares said the success at the plate is almost viral.

"It's kind of like a disease, somebody catches it and the next person is going to get it too," he said. "Hitting is contagious, when the first guy leads off and gets a hit the next guy is going to be feeling good too and it's going to follow down the order."

It's getting to the point that the players almost don't believe what's happening.

"We have a really good offense here, it's definitely one of the better ones I've ever been on here in my three years," Polak said. "We just have an approach of wanting to do some damage in the box and we've executed it really well to this point."

After watching his pitching staff throw a combined two-hitter between six arms in a win over DuPage on Tuesday and seeing his bats come alive like they did on Friday, Quincy manager Pat Robles is basking in what he and his staff have built.

"We are in a really good place right now," he said. "As a pitching staff, as a lineup, we are clicking on all cylinders right now and it's something nice to have."

The Gems are playing some of their best ball at the right time, too. They are now on a four-game winning streak and just a half-game behind DuPage for second place in the West Division. With a game against the Pistol Shrimp on Saturday in DuPage, the Gems could be in control of that playoff spot heading into next week's all-star break.

"We can win the whole thing if we do everything right," Clark-Chiapparelli said. "We are hoping we don't lose too many guys since it's summerball and there are priorities at home, but if we maintain our guys one-through-nine and with a couple dangerous guys coming in after us, I think we can take it far."

Gems 18, Sliders 5

Springfield Quincy

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Roos rf 2 0 0 0 Klein 2b 5 0 1 0

Friedrichs rf 2 0 0 0 Caplinger ph 0 1 0 0

Ludwick 2b 5 3 3 1 Behling lf 5 4 2 2

Vilches dh 5 0 1 0 Polak dh 6 4 2 2

Spry 1b 4 0 2 2 Polak dh 6 4 5 5

File 3b 4 0 2 2 Ignoffo 3b 0 0 0 0

Black ss 3 1 1 1 Clrk-Chiprli 3b 6 4 5 5

Arndt c 3 1 0 0 Crowl ss 3 2 3 1

Rigoni lf 4 0 0 0 Vannoy ph 1 0 0 0

Hanafan cf 4 0 1 1 Schares c 5 1 2 4

Borden II rf 6 0 1 1

Wells 1b 2 0 0 0

Youngquist ph 3 0 0 0

Parks cf 2 2 1 0

Totals 36 5 8 5 Totals 44 18 20 18

Springfield 101 100 110 -- 5

Quincy 010 036 350

E--Arndt 3 (4), Wells (1). LOB--Springfield 7, Quincy 10. 2B--Spry (7), Behling (7), Crowl (10), Schares (9). HR--Ludwick (6), Black (2), Behling (9), Polak 2 (10), Clark-Chiapparelli 2 (15), Schares (3). SB--Ludwick (7), File (2), Arndt (1), Clark-Chiapparelli (16), Parks (1).

IP H R ER BB SO

Springfield

Parks L, 0-5 4 1-3 9 4 3 1 5

Mackdeon 1 2-3 4 6 6 1 1

Abraham 1 5 4 4 1 0

Hennemann 1 2 4 4 0 0

Quincy

Passmore 1 3 1 1 1 1

Jemar W,2-5 4 2 2 2 1 2

Netherton 1 0 0 0 0 0

Phansalkar 1 2 1 1 0 2

Peccioli 1 1 1 1 0 3

Clark-Chiapparelli 1 0 0 0 0 2

WP--Parks, Mackdeon, Passmore. HP--Jemar (Roos), Parks (Parks), Mackdeon (Parks), Abraham (Parks), Hennemann 2 (Caplinger, Behling)

Umpires--Home, Steve Metts; Field, Dennis George. T--3:08. A--974.