It’s been a rollercoaster type of season for the Quincy Gems this summer. The team experienced another twist and turn on Monday.
Before the Gems played host to the Hannibal Hoots, in another Battle for the Paddle game, the team learned manager Rick Fraire had left the team.
The team responded with a 6-4 win over the Hoots, at QU Stadium, for its fifth win in the last six games.
Gems starting pitcher Derek Martin fanned a season-best 13 batters as he pitched into the sixth inning. The right-handed pitcher scattered five hits in his 5 ⅓ innings of work and walked three while allowing two runs in earning the win.
“The entire pitching staff has been working hard to throw more strikes and get ahead in the count,” Martin said of the reason for his success Monday night. “We have really been working on the way we approach hitters and attack like coach Pat (Robles) wants us to. Tonight was just a good overall victory for us.”
One night after the offense exploded for 13 runs in the ninth inning for a 20-1 win over the Hoots at Clemens Field, the Gems offense struck early on Monday.
Cody Klotz clubbed his team-leading ninth home run of the summer for a 2-0 lead after one inning.
The Gems cleanup hitter finished the game 3-for-4, scored two runs and swiped two bases.
“Cody is swinging a hot bat,” Gems interim manager Pat Robles said. “But he’s been doing that all summer as he is hitting around .350. He pitched well (Sunday) and came back out here tonight and swung it well.”
Francisco Rodriguez added a solo home run in the third inning for a 3-0 lead.
Jake Hahn hit a sacrifice fly an inning later for a 4-0 lead.
The Hoots broke through against Martin in the sixth inning.
Duante DeCello recorded an RBI single scoring Chris Iazzetta, who led off the inning with a walk before stealing second.
Two batters later, Josh Lane singled home DeCello to trim the lead to 4-2.
Lane was left standing at third as Austen Seidel forced Tye Thixton to popup and Tommy Kraus to strikeout to end the inning.
The Gems added to their lead on an RBI single by Ryan Mantle in the bottom of the frame, before Hahn made it 6-2 with another sacrifice fly in the last of the eighth.
The two runs proved to be the difference of the game as the Hoots scored twice in the ninth.
After Davis Schwarb recorded the first two outs, Sam Nozicka started the late rally with an infield single.
Iazetta followed with an RBI double. A single by DeCello gave the Hoots runners at the corners and brought the tying run to the plate.
Brady West followed with an RBI single for the final tally.
“We showed some fight there in the ninth and gave ourselves a chance,” Hoots manager Clayton Hicks said. “We just did not have enough to get the job done.”
The game ended when pinch runner Pat Donohue was caught in a rundown as he was picked off first base by Schwarb.
“He made a good move,” Hicks said of Schwarb. “He caught our guy off guard. We actually thought he balked on the play, but you can’t really see that with just a two-man (umpiring) crew out there. It’s just one of those things that did not go our way. Hopefully it will start to swing our way again soon.”
After winning 12 of 14 games, the Hoots (17-25) have now lost six of seven games.
“We just have to do a better job of putting the ball in play,” the Hoots skipper stated. “We struck out 18 times tonight and you are not going to win games like that. When things were going good for us we were having productive at bats. We need to find a way to get back to that.”
Lane finished the game with three hits in the loss.
The Gems improved 20-22 on the season.
“We are looking to do some damage from here on out and make a push towards the playoffs,” Martin said.