QUINCY, Ill. — One final game with no playoff implications allowed the Hannibal Hoots to simply enjoy the game.
"We just wanted to let loose," Hoots outfielder Mark Goudy said. "There wasn’t anything riding on anything today. It was more than just a baseball game. We just wanted to come together and play together and have fun with the sport we love."
That was evident during the game as the dugout Tuesday night seemed more lively than most. Even the DuPage Pistol Shrimp, who locked up one of the two Prospect League West Division playoff spots, put in a lineup of mostly pitchers playing the field and joined in the on the fun.
"It felt like a backyard game," Goudy said. "It was really something special. Even (DuPage) was out there having fun with us."
DuPage just didn’t manufacture the same offense Hannibal did.
The Hoots banged out 23 hits on the way to their highest scoring output of the season in a 22-1 victory at QU Stadium to close out the regular season. Of those 22 hits, 10 went for extra bases.
Goudy had the best night of any Hoot, going 5 for 6 with a grand slam and three doubles while driving in six runs.
"I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the summer," Goudy said. "It was an amazing experience."
Goudy’s slam highlighted a seven-run fifth inning that saw an 11-0 lead balloon to 18-0. He drove in runs on doubles in the second and sixth innings as well.
Matt Westphal and AJ Smith also homered, while Kyler Kent and Kellan Murray each hit triples.
Hannibal (23-37) scored the game’s first 22 runs before DuPage (34-25) scored its lone run in the top of the ninth inning.
"When you get up by as many as we did, it’s easier to sit back and enjoy it and think about the summer as a whole," said Hoots left-hander Dylan Chisholm, who tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings while allowing three hits and striking out eight. "We could have some fun and do some fun things to end the summer."
Hannibal’s scoring outburst started on Goudy’s RBI double and then Connor Manthey scored from second on a wild pitch, which made it 2-0. The lead grew to 8-0 after a six-run third inning and 11-0 through four innings.
Westphal hit a three-run homer in the third, while Nathan Kuhn and Kent each had RBI singles.
Manthey drove in two runs on a single in the fourth.
"It was a proud moment today," Hoots manager Clayton Hicks said. "I just wish some of those runs would have come yesterday. There was no pressure or anything."
It made for a better night than ending the season with a loss.
"It was a big thing and it meant a lot to the guys in the dugout," Hicks said. "Three weeks ago we were either dead last or close to it, so they fought."