QUINCY, Ill. – The Springfield Sliders finally had reason to celebrate.
After Hannibal Hoots second baseman Nathan Kuhn popped out near his own dugout, the Sliders snapped the longest losing streak in Prospect League history with a 5-2 victory Wednesday night at QU Stadium. Springfield entered the game on a 26-game losing streak and hadn’t won since July 2.
The previous record for consecutive losses in a season was 14 games, which was set by the Sliders in 2013.
"Coming into this season we didn’t expect to be where we’re at, obviously," Sliders manager Jeremiah Knackstedt said. "We’ve just had a lot of bad luck and a lot of bad things go our way. We’ve got four guys that were on our original roster, and they’re feeling pretty good right now. Everyone else is pretty excited."
Knackstedt said the team never was down on each other despite the number of losses piling up.
"They’ve had positive attitudes and they don’t come to the park acting like they don’t want to be here," he said. "They wanted to play and wanted to get one. Obviously, that didn’t happen for the 20-some games it did."
The game was knotted at 2-2 heading to the top of the eighth before the Sliders (10-44) broke through.
Joe Paparelli plated the go-ahead run on an RBI double. Two batters later, Michael Hampton drove in two more runs on another double that made it 5-2.
Hannibal (21-32) was retired in order in the eighth and ninth innings. The Hoots had just five hits, and the final one came on a two-out single by Matt Westphal in the bottom of the sixth.
"They outhit us, they outpitched and they outplayed us," Hoots manager Clayton Hicks said. "They even outcoached in some regards. They were the better team tonight. I know it’s been a frustrating year for them, so they’ve earned it."
The loss snapped the Hoots’ eight-game winning streak against the Sliders. Hannibal’s most recent victory over Springfield saw the Hoots score 10 runs in the first inning in a 13-7 contest Sunday.
"That’s a great example that you never know what will happen from one day to the next," Hicks said. "It’s a great of example of why you can’t overlook an opponent. You have to treat every opponent and every game the same way."
Hannibal entered the game having lost several key offensive pieces like Jered Wegner, Brant Vananman and Brett Zimmerman, who went home for the remainder of the summer. That left the Hoots putting together a new lineup.
That’s why the loss, while disappointing, wasn’t seen as the worst for the Hoots.
"If it was a school game, then maybe, but it’s summer ball," Hoots designated hitter Kellan Murray said. "It’s a grind. We’re beaten up. I know they’re beaten up. When you play 60 games in 70 days, it’s hard on anybody."
Springfield scored the game’s first run on an RBI single in the top of the first inning, but Hannibal answered with its only two runs in the bottom of the second. Kuhn’s RBI double scored Westphal to tie the game. Ryan Kaup followed with an RBI single for a 2-1 lead.
The Sliders tied the game in the fifth on a sacrifice fly.
Springfield had 13 hits, and five of those went for extra bases.