Bullpen narrowly avoids spoiling Kirn’s masterful effort as QU baseball team wins series opener


Quincy University junior right-hander Griffin Kirn throws a pitch during Friday's game against Rockhurst at QU Stadium. Kirn struck out a career-high 15 batters in Quincy's 10-9 victory. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Film study paid off.

In the days leading up to Friday’s start against Rockhurst, Quincy University left-handed pitcher Griffin Kirn reviewed as much video as possible of his previous starts this season and past seasons, looking for any mechanical tweak that could give him an edge.

Whatever he found worked wonders.

The Quincy Notre Dame graduate mowed down Rockhurst in the opening game of a Great Lakes Valley Conference series at QU Stadium, striking out 15 over six innings and leaving with a five-run lead. The bullpen made it interesting, allowing eight runs over the final three innings before left-hander Roman Harrison struck out Rockhurst’s Michael Laudando to finish a 10-9 victory.

Kirn struck out the first six batters — four swinging — before allowing an infield single leading off the third. He struck out the next three batters, all swinging.

A groundout to start the fourth inning was the first non-strikeout, and Rockhurst tied the game at 1 when Andrew Loeffelman’s flyball to right-center field found the jetstream and blew out for a solo home run. The Hawks regained the lead in the fifth with a five-run frame highlighted by three consecutive doubles by David Broughton, Dustin DuPont and Joe Huffman and an RBI single by Austin Simpson.

After getting a groundout to start the sixth, Kirn struck out the next two swinging to set a career high in strikeout with 15.

His final line was six innings, one run, three hits, no walks and 15 strikeouts as he improved to 3-1.

Quincy (8-13, 5-4 GLVC) increased its lead to 10-2 with a four-run seventh inning that featured a pair of bases-loaded walks and Adam Lewis getting hit by a pitch to drive in another run.

In the eighth, the wheels came off in the QU bullpen. A double and a two-run home run by Novak leading off were part of five straight Rockhurst batters to reach safely against QU reliever Logan Munroe. After a pitching change, Rockhurst scored twice more on a sacrifice fly and a two-out single to pull within 10-8.

In the ninth, Harrison got the first batters he faced out before allowing a double, a wild pitch and an RBI single. He stranded the final runner at first base with the strikeout of Laudando.

Broughton and DuPont each had two hits and two RBIs for Quincy, while Brock Boynton launched a solo home run in the second inning to give QU its initial lead.

Quincy right-hander Kobe Essien and left-hander Tom Conzemius are scheduled to start during Saturday’s doubleheader, which begins at noon at QU Stadium.

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