A Wink and a knock: Raiders celebrate Senior Day with enjoyable effort in shutout of Hornets
QUINCY — With the way their class schedule works, a majority of the seniors on the Quincy Notre Dame baseball team typically hit the field for practice shortly after 1:30 p.m., giving them the opportunity to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment from every day together.
“This is their time,” QND coach Rich Polak said.
So Monday, the first-year skipper made sure the spotlight was theirs, too..
Polak shuffled the lineup and altered defensive positions so all 10 seniors were on field simultaneously. It brought out the best in one of Class 2A’s top teams as Mason Winking tossed a two-hit shutout, Tyler Dance collected his first varsity hit and the Raiders rolled to an 11-0, five-inning victory over Brown County at Ferd Niemann Jr. Memorial Ballfield.
“It was really a cool experience for me,” said WInking, who walked two and struck out two in his first start of the season. “Going out there and doing my job, doing my part for the team was the most important thing.”
Dance had the same approach.
The senior right-hander owns a 6-0 record on the mound with a team-leading 37 strikeouts and a 0.52 ERA, but he had just one at-bat prior to Monday. To give him the chance to hit, Dalton Miller moved to second base, which put Dance at first base and hitting eighth in the order.
He struck out looking in his first at-bat to end the first inning. In the third, he worked the count to one ball and two strikes before ripping a fastball to left field for a double that drove in Jack Linenfelser and courtesy runner Evan Kenning.
“I think it was everything,” Dance said of how he felt when he reached second base safely. “It was relief, excitement, everything. All the emotions were just flowing together. I had a great time out there and was honored to be given the opportunity to do it.”
Although players in the dugout called for the ball after the play, the umpire never threw it out. So when it was fouled into the parking lot, three of Dance’s teammates left the dugout to track it down and present it to him afterward.
He said the ball likely will go in a case on a shelf in his room.
“Your teammates encouraging you and cheering you on every time you step up to the plate, that’s great,” Dance said. “Such a cool feeling.”
With that comes pressure to perform.
“A little bit,” Dance said. “I can’t lie about that.”
The pressure was eased by the enjoyment of the day.
The Raiders (21-1) scored three runs in the first inning with Tucker Tollerton and Linenfelser each smacking RBI doubles. Miller had a run-scoring single in the second inning, and the Raiders erupted for seven runs in the third inning.
Miller added a two-run triple in the third and scored the final run on a groundout. Miller went 2 for 3 and gobbled up both ground balls hit his direction. Tollerton scored three runs, while Jake Schisler and Linenfelser had two hits apiece.
Sam Carr doubled for Brown County (16-7), which put two runners on base with one out in the fifth. Winking got out of trouble by getting a pair of popouts — one to Linenfelser at shortstop and the other to Brady Kindhart at third base to end the game.
“I definitely had decent movement,” Winking said. “The wind helped with that. Just knowing my defense was behind me was big.”
All of those seniors backing another senior on the mound made it almost perfect.
“That’s something special that I will cherish forever,” Dance said. “That was probably my last time playing first base, and we went out with a bang.”
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