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O’FALLON, Mo. — Grabbing the lead in the first inning proved critical Thursday night as the Quincy Gems and O’Fallon Hoots split a Prospect League doubleheader at CarShield Field.

The Gems struck for two runs in the top of the first in the first game, resulting in a 5-2 victory. The Hoots responded with two runs in the bottom of the first in the second game, propelling them to a 4-3 victory

In the opener, the Gems were opportunistic out of the gate.

With one out in the top of the first inning, Danny Sperling doubled and went to third when Nick Iannantone reached on an error by Hoots shortstop Cade Hohl. Sperling scored on a groundout to first base that also moved Iannantone into scoring position.

He scored when Matt Schark reached on Hohl’s second error of the inning.

In the third inning, Iannantone doubled with one out and scored on Schark’s single. In the fourth, Gino D’Alessio belted a two-out solo home run, while Sperling followed with a double and Iannantone drove him in with a single.

That was enough to keep the Hoots at bay.

O’Fallon scored twice in the sixth inning, but three Quincy pitchers held them to just seven hits. Brayden Haug allowed one run and three hits over 5.1 innings, striking out 10 and walking three to earn the victory. Trent Youngblood and Jack Payne finished it off.

D’Alessio went 3 for 4, while Sperling and Iannantone each had two hits.

In the nightcap, the Hoots tagged Gems starter Andrew Fay for two runs by capitalizing on a walk, an error and three consecutive singles to plate two runs.

The Gems answered with two runs in the top of the second. With one out, Youngblood doubled, Alex Wattermann walked and both advanced on a wild pitch. Ryan Hutchinson’s sacrifice fly drove in Youngblood.

A hit batter and a walk loaded the bases, and Iannantone drew a walk to force in the second run. A groundout to end the inning left the bases loaded.

Brett Johnson’s leadoff homer in the bottom of the third gave the Hoots the lead again, but the Gems had another answer. In the top of the fourth, Sperling walked with two outs, stole second base and scored on Iannantone’s single.

A single, stolen base, single and sacrifice fly plated the go-ahead run for the Hoots off Gems reliever Bailey Wendell in the bottom of the fourth.

Fay struck out six and Wendell struck out seven, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Gems from falling. Iannantone had two of the Gems’ five hits.

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