QUINCY, Ill. — A three-run home run gave the Hannibal Hoots life.
The Quincy Gems thwarted that with home runs of their own.
Cade Schares belted two homers, including a game-sealing two-run shot in the top of the fifth inning that lifted the Gems to an 8-5 victory over the Hoots Friday night at QU Stadium.
"We hit a lot of home runs as a team," Schares said. "We’ve got a lot of guys that come up in clutch situations. Those get us pumped up because it’s the quickest way to score."
It ended the Hoots’ winning streak, who were looking to win a fifth straight game.
"They’re powerful and have a lot of artillery," Hoots manager Clayton Hicks said. "That’s just part of the game, and we just ask our guys to regroup."
The victory allowed the Gems (26-22) to keep pace with the DuPage Pistol Shrimp, who hold a three-game lead over Quincy for the final playoff spot in the West Division with 12 games remaining.
The Pistol Shrimp, however, have 16 games remaining on their schedule.
That means the remaining games are crucial. That means the Gems have to score.
"We are really going to need to swing," Schares said. "Teams have their pitching taper off this time of year because guys hit their innings limits. It’s going to take a lot of hitting to make the playoffs."
Quincy displayed that with four more home runs to push their season total to 83.
Schares hit his first home run in the top of the second inning to tie the game at 1-1. Drew Behling followed in the third inning with a two-run homer, his 11th of the season, that made it 3-1.
Kyle Crowl hit his 14th home run of the summer with a two-run shot in the fourth that made it a 5-1 game.
"Anytime you can put some swings and it happens to go out, that’s what we want to do," Gems manager Pat Robles said. "That’s what we built our roster on. That’s what we’re good at."
The Gems had nine hits total, but six went for extra bases. Schares went 4 for 4 and drove in three runs.
Hannibal (19-29) did when Brant Vanaman hit a three-run shot to right in the fourth that cut the deficit to 5-4. That dinger extended his homer run to four-straight games.
"I knew the pitcher was aggressive with the fastball," Vanaman said. "I was swinging for that and happened to run into it. Things like that get the dugout going."
Hannibal, however, didn’t get another baserunner until Ryan Kaup singled to lead off the sixth, only to be doubled off on a line drive.
Drew Gilin drove in Connor Manthey on an RBI single in the eighth for the final run.
The Hoots had just six hits, and Gilin had three of them while scoring two runs.
The Gems’ victory was their seventh in 11 games against the Hoots and sealed a victory in the Battle for the Paddle series.