Against the wind: Gusty conditions cannot deter Raiders from powering up against Blue Devils

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QUINCY — The strength of the wind blowing in from center field Tuesday afternoon had every hitter in the Quincy Notre Dame baseball team’s lineup thinking singles over home runs.

“I was just focusing on hitting liners up the middle,” QND right fielder Colin Kurk said. 

It seemed like the right approach.

“That overall makes my swing better,” QND pitcher and leadoff hitter Jake Schisler said. “Hit one hard and low.”

Catch it just right and it might end up high and long, something Kurk and Schisler did in back-to-back at-bats in the second inning of the Raiders’ 16-1, four-inning hammering of Quincy High School at Ferd Niemann Jr. Memorial Ballfield.

With QND already leading 3-0, Kurk led off the second inning by hammering the first pitch from QHS right-hander Kyle Taylor deep to left field for his second home run of the season and his first at The Ferd.

“When I hit it, I knew I hit it well, but I didn’t think it was going out,” Kurk said. “So I was running pretty hard out of the box. Then (first base coach Zach Robb) told me it was gone. I was a little surprised, but definitely happy.”

His teammates were equally shocked and elated.

“I really didn’t know Kurk had that in him,” Schisler said.

No one knew Schisler did either. Two games after hitting his first-ever home run at The Ferd, Schisler stepped in after Kurk and took three straight balls to start the at-bat. After a called strike, he roped a fastball over the high left-field fence, much to the joy of the dugout.

“Good things happen when you swing hard,” Schisler said.

They also take place when you’re patient, something the Raiders made certain to be.

Ahead 7-0 after two innings, QND (22-1) opened the bottom of the third inning with three consecutive walks and a hit batter to force in the first run. A walk to Dalton Miller pushed in another, and one out later, Jack Linenfelser was hit by a pitch to plate the third run of the inning without a hit.

Michael Stupavsky provided the first and biggest hit of the frame. Facing an 0-2 count against QHS reliever Keaton Barry, Stupavsky smoked a grand slam to left field for a 14-0 advantage.

“He was a little slower than the other pitchers,” Stupavsky said. “The first two pitches I was a little shaky. I was off-balance a little bit. I waited pretty well on the third one and got a pretty good swing.”

Again, the dugout exploded.

“The energy was really high today since everyone was excited to play our crosstown rival,” Stupavsky said. “We were really focused and locked in, and we were swinging the bats well.”

Most importantly, the Raiders weren’t free swinging. They drew seven walks, were hit by four pitches and worked deep into counts. Three QHS pitchers combined to throw 111 pitches in four innings.

“When we took (batting practice) today, we had pretty good focus because the wind was just absolutely crazy,” QND coach Rich Polak said. “Our guys in general had pretty good approaches at the plate.”

The Blue Devils (11-10) had runners on base in each of the four innings against Schisler, but managed only one run in the fourth when Owen Zanger doubled with one out, Jack Mettemeyer singled with two outs and Jansen Lawson singled to plate courtesy runner Konner Bush.

All four of the Blue Devils’ hits came from the bottom five spots in the order.

Schisler struck out four, walked three and allowed one earned run while throwing 83 pitches in picking up his fifth victory of the season, but the Missouri S&T signee wasn’t totally enamored with his effort.

“It definitely wasn’t my best outing,” Schisler said. “But I showed some patience to bear down and go to work.”

He may get another chance against the Blue Devils as well. The teams are scheduled to square off next Monday at the QHS field.

“In the huddle after the game, we were saying we need to stay locked in because they are going to come back and want some blood,” Stupavsky said.

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