Welcome back: Raiders’ energetic, clean effort coincides with first home game in three weeks
QUINCY — There aren’t many places that make Tyler Dance feel as comfortable and confident as he does pitching at Ferd Niemann Jr. Ballfield.
“That mound is one of my favorites,” the Quincy Notre Dame senior right-hander said.
He hadn’t pitched from that mound since the QND baseball team beat Hannibal on April 5. Five days later, the Raiders embarked on a 10-game road swing in which they won all 10 games and outscored their opponents 128-21. Still, it was a long way home.
“Ten road games in a row is definitely tough,” senior pitcher/outfielder Jake Schisler said. “We handled it all right, but it’s good to be home.”
It showed. Friday’s return to The Ferd featured Schisler hitting his first-ever home run at home, Dance shutting out Camp Point Central for five innings and Alex Connoyer sending everyone home with a walk-off three-run home run to left field to cap a 12-0 victory.
“From the beginning, in and out, we looked much crisper,” Connoyer said. “We think it’s just playing here and feeling the safety of playing at home.”
So exactly how did it feel to come home?
“Unbelievable,” QND coach Rich Polak said. “It was great to be home in front of our fans. The guys had a little more energy today. Being back home was fantastic.”
A sizable crowd welcomed the Raiders back, and the fans were treated to Dance being in control, the offense collecting four extra-base hits and the defense delivering an errorless effort in QND’s 17th victory in a row.
Dance struck out eight, walked none and allowed just three hits over five innings. Thanks to a double play to end the first inning and a relay throw from the outfield that led to the Panthers’ Masen Miller getting thrown out at third base for the second out in the fifth, Dance faced only one batter over the minimum.
“We’ve been working on limiting walks and keeping my pitch count down,” Dance said. “It’s about letting our defense work, and they played great behind me.”
Dance fed off the crowd’s energy as much as anyone.
“It’s great to come back home, come back to the fans,” he said. “It’s awesome how much they support us. It was great to come back and see them.”
The Raiders (20-1) backed Dance by scoring four times in the first inning and never letting up.
Schisler led off the bottom of the first with a walk, went to third on Tucker Tollerton’s single and they both scored on Dalton Miller’s double. The other two runs were scored on a wild pitch and an error. Schisler led off the second with a home run to left field, and Jack Linenfelser drove in another run with a two-out single.
Miller’s two-run single in the third inning made it 8-0. Schisler scored when Miller reached on an error with out in the fifth, and after Brady Kindhart walked, Connoyer launched his three-run home run to left field.
“We looked really good in all aspects of the game,” Connoyer said.
It’s the perfect time for that to happen.
“We were looking at the schedule yesterday and seeing how quickly the postseason is coming,” said Connoyer, who went 3 for 4 with two runs scored. “We want to start playing our best baseball right now and take that into the postseason.”
Coming home is the boost the Raiders needed.
“It was a different atmosphere overall, and it was a lot cleaner of an effort,” Schisler said. “That had to do with us being back here.”
The Raiders will play five of next week’s seven games at home, including Monday’s matchup with Brown County.
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