Sports

Gems walk off with win, inch closer to first-place Terre Haute

Posted: Jul. 25, 2012 12:15 am Updated: Aug. 15, 2012 12:18 am

By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer

QU-Stadium isn't conducive to scoreboard watching. The only score posted is the one for the game on the field.

So Nick Moore and his Quincy Gems teammates weren't aware of what was going on in Hannibal on Tuesday between the Cavemen and Terre Haute -- at least not until the Cavemen's win over the division-leading Rex was announced over the public address during the late innings of Quincy's game against Springfield.

That news gave the Gems a little extra motivation to beat Springfield.

"It's a game late in the season, and we have to gain ground on Terre Haute," Moore said.

Moore, with an assist from Aaron Priestes, sparked Quincy to a 13-12 walk-off win over the Sliders. Moore went 4 for 5 with two home runs and four RBI, and Priestes singled home the winning run with no outs and the bases loaded in the ninth.

The win pulled the Gems (28-20, 10-8 second half) to within two games of Terre Haute for first place in the West Division's second-half standings. Quincy has 12 games left in the second half, with two against Terre Haute this weekend at QU-Stadium.

"Knowing that Terre Haute just lost, it was big for us to get a walk-off win," Moore said. "Hopefully we can build some momentum off of that."

Quincy and Springfield (20-27, 9-8 second half) are the West's top two scoring teams, and they showed why. The Gems blasted five home runs, and Springfield hit three, including two bombs from Matt Tellor, who leads the Prospect League with 17 homers.

Springfield's Michael Hurwitz tied the game at 12 in the top of the ninth with a two-run homer off of Quincy's Jake Walsh. Quincy had scored twice in the bottom of the eighth to take a 12-10 lead. Nick Tindall, who hit a three-run home run earlier in the game, drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly during the eighth, and Moore brought home another run with a two-out single.

"Obviously when you look back at a one-run win, (Moore's) home runs were big, but the base hit he had with two outs to put us up by two turned out to be huge," Gems manager Chris Martin said. "Even though we got the bases loaded with nobody out there in the ninth, if he doesn't drive in that run there, they're up one going into that inning, and it's a totally different (type of) pressure."

Springfield reliever John White opened the ninth by walking Zac Zdanowicz and David Kuhne before Greg Allen reached on a bunt single. It was one of Allen's four hits.

Priestes followed by lifting a deep fly ball on the first pitch he saw from White into left-center field. The Sliders' outfielders didn't pursue it -- it would've been a sacrifice fly even had it been caught -- and it landed near the warning track.

"I was just trying to hit the ball in the air, knowing it a sac fly would score the run. It was an easy opportunity to steal the game," Priestes said. "I didn't think it wasn't getting out (for a grand slam), but I knew I hit it good enough to score the run. I'll take it."

Zdanowicz led off the game with a homer to left field. It was his first round tripper of the season, and it left Moore as the only active position player who hadn't homered this summer.

"That's what the guys in the dugout were saying (after Zdanowicz' homer). They're like, ‘Zac has one. You're the last guy to do it,'" Moore said.

Moore took care of that in his second at-bat, hitting a two-run homer to right field to put Quincy ahead 6-4. Two innings later, Moore pulled the pull and sent a solo shot over the left-field wall. Nick Day also homered for Quincy.

"It was hot out here tonight, and the ball was carrying, and we were able to put a couple good swings on the ball, and it carried on out for us," Martin said.

-- btoppmeyer@whig.com/221-3367