Aaron Goecks hit the go-ahead home run and Tyler Lunger pitched five innings of relief Friday to lead the Hannibal Hoots to a 6-5 win at Quincy in 13 innings.
Jordan Bock threw Aaron Goecks a changeup in the tenth inning.
The Hannibal left-handed hitter was a little out in front and hooked it foul — well beyond the wall in right field.
Three innings later, Goecks had another chance. He didn’t miss.
Goecks sent the offering from Bock over the fence in right, keeping it fair this time, for a go-ahead solo home run. The long ball gave the Hoots a 6-5 win over the Quincy Gems in 13 innings at QU Stadium on Friday night.
“He threw me a curveball and I was waiting back on it,” Goecks explained. “He threw me a changeup before and I just hooked it foul so I didn’t think he would give me that pitch again.”
The win marked the fourth straight time the Hoots have defeated the Gems.
Hannibal has won 11 of its past 12 overall to move to within two games of a Prospect League playoff spot.
“We have been playing well,” Goecks said. “Our hitting has been phenomenal. Our pitching has been outstanding. We are just clicking right now and we hope to be able to keep this thing rolling.”
Quincy is heading in the opposite direction. The loss is the 10th in its past 11 contests.
But it's not because of lack of effort.
The Gems trailed 5-3 heading into the last of the ninth inning.
Run-scoring triples by Francisco Rodriguez and Aaron Campbell forced the game into extra innings.
“We have dropped a lot of close games but our guys are always fighting until the end,” Gems manager Rick Fraire said.
Winning pitcher Tyler Lunger worked his way out of a jam after the Gems tied the contest. With the winning run just 90 feet away, the hard throwing right-hander fanned the next two batters.
Lunger proceeded to pitch the next four innings for the longest outing of his career.
“As a coach I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Hoots manager Clayton Hicks said of his relief pitcher. “That is the most pitches he has thrown since his senior year of high school. I kept asking him every inning if he wanted it and he kept saying he didn’t want to come out. I wasn’t going to argue with him, we were going to ride him him. He wanted the ball.”
Lunger allowed just two hits in his five innings of work and registered eight punchouts.
Max McGuire gave Lunger and the Hoots a scare in the last frame. The Quincy catcher sent a fly ball toward the wall in left field.
“Off the bat, my heart skipped a little,” Goecks said. “I thought at first I was either just giving it a courtesy run or I was going to have to jump (at the wall) for it. But thankfully the wind knocked it down and I caught it on the (warning) track.”
Fraire knows how close his team was to extending the game.
“Maybe if the wind is blowing the other way we have a couple more (runs),” the Gems manager said. “But not tonight. It just was not our time.”
Hannibal jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Gems even came up to the plate.
Dylan Dodd and Goecks recorded RBI singles, while a third run crossed the plate on a throwing error.
The Gems failed to turn a double play, which aided in the inning.
“Aside from a terrible first inning, I didn’t think our defense was bad,” Fraire said.
Dodd came up with an RBI single in the second for a 4-0 lead.
Cody Birdsong put the Gems on the board in the fourth inning with an RBI single. An inning later Campbell pulled the hosts to within 5-3 with a two-run double.
The Gems loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth but could not score.
Former Gems pitcher Dylan Chisholm coaxed Jimmy Huber to hit into a 3-2-3 double play before a flyout to center ended the scoring threat.
“We had our chances,” Fraire said. “We left a lot of guys on base. Again we just couldn’t come up with that big hit. But we will get back out there tomorrow and see what we come up with.”
With the way the Gems tied the game in the ninth, Hicks admitted his team probably would have ended up losing the game earlier in the season.
“The way this team has grown and responded throughout this year is great,” the Hoots manager said. “Earlier in the year we were losing these kind of games because we couldn’t finish. One way or the other we found ways to lose games, but now we are finding ways to win them."
Quincy (15-19) travels to Danville Saturday.
Hannibal (15-18) plays host to Kokomo at Clemens Field, also on Saturday.