QUINCY, Ill. — The Hannibal Hoots had lost six straight games and struggled to score during the slide.
The Hoots’ dugout didn’t portray that kind of team. The offense in the first inning didn’t, either.
Hannibal scored six runs in the first inning and 11 in the first three frames on the way to a 13-8 Prospect League victory over the Springfield Sliders Saturday night at QU Stadium. The Hoots scored just seven runs during the six-game skid.
“That just felt really good to get the bats going again,” Hoots third baseman Damian Yenzi said. “We finally got some offense.”
Hannibal (22-35) scored two batters into the game on Kellan Murray’s RBI double to score Nathan Kuhn. Yenzi and Matt Westphal had back-to-back RBI singles, and Yenzi scored on an error by Springfield centerfielder on the ball hit by Westphal for a 4-0 lead.
Joey Kalafut drove in a run on a double, and he scored on another error, which made it 6-0.
Kuhn had a two-run single, and AJ Smith had a two-run double in part of a five-run third inning to push Hannibal’s lead to 11-0.
As the lead grew, the Hoots’ dugout became louder and more energized.
“I think we’re still just competitors,” Kuhn said. “We don’t want to go up there and throw away at-bats or games. Winning is fun, so you might as well just keep trying to do that.”
It was enough runs early to hold of the Sliders the rest of the way.
Springfield (11-46) used a bases-clearing double in the fifth to cut the deficit to 12-4. An RBI double followed by a two-run homer in the eighth cut it to 12-8.
Hannibal, however, got an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth on Mark Goudy’s RBI single to score Yenzi.
Hannibal finished with 15 hits. Kuhn went 4 for 6 with two runs. Murray, Westphal, Kalafut and Goudy each had two hits for the Hoots.
Will Conerly picked up the victory after throwing two innings of relief.
“We definitely made it interesting,” Hoots manager Clayton Hicks said. “With where we are in our schedule, and we’re so thin on arms, but we’re still trying to compete every day. They’ve fought through a lot even though our record isn’t where we want it to be.”
The Hoots, however, can match last season’s win total if they win out the last three regular season games.
That’s the focus.
“We made that goal after the all-star break to either do better or match the win total,” Yenzi said. “We can still achieve that goal, so I think as a team we’d really like to achieve that and end on a high note.”