‘I pretty much got every stitch of that ball’: Simpson’s walk-off grand slam sends Hawks into GLVC Tournament title game


Quincy University's Austin Simpson gets a hug from third base coach Chandler Purcell after belting a walk-off grand slam for a 7-5 victory over William Jewell on Saturday in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament at Mtn. Dew Park in Marion, Ill. | Photo courtesy Stephanie Boynton

MARION, Ill. — The steakhouse Austin Simpson and his parents visited Saturday night had a 12-ounce ribeye on the menu.

“I ate the whole thing,” the Quincy University first baseman said.

He knew he needed to order it when he saw how it was labeled.

“It was actually called ‘The champion,’” he said.

How fitting considering the QU baseball team will be playing Sunday for the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament championship thanks to Simpson’s late-game heroics and arguably the biggest swing of his collegiate career.

Trailing William Jewell 5-3 in the bottom of the 10th inning at Mtn. Dew Park, the Hawks loaded the bases with two outs to bring Simpson to the plate. On the second pitch from Cardinals reliever Brogan McDougall, the clean-up hitter blasted a walk-off grand slam to right field for a 7-5 victory.

“I pretty much got every stitch of that ball,” Simpson said.

It was the Hawks’ second walk-off home run of the tournament and third consecutive extra-inning victory, leaving them as the only undefeated team in the field. Fourth-seeded Quincy (28-25) will face either second-seeded Maryville or eighth-seeded Lewis at 12:30 p.m. Sunday in the title game.

The Saints and Flyers square off at 9 a.m. in an elimination game after Lewis rallied for five runs in the seventh inning Saturday night and won 6-3, handing Maryville its first loss of the tournament.

“We’re hopefully not going to make it a nail-biter tomorrow,” Simpson said. “Give our parents and the coaches a rest on the heart.”

The mix of anxiety and frustration pushed everyone’s blood pressure to the max Saturday.

Quincy University left-handed starter Tom Conzemius allowed one earned run over seven innings Saturday against William Jewell in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament at Mtn. Dew Park in Marion, Ill. | Photo courtesy Stephanie Boynton

Left-hander starter Tom Conzemius gave the Hawks seven quality innings, allowing one earned run and four hits with two strikeouts and leaving with a 3-2 lead. However, the Cardinals scratched across a run in the top of the eighth to tie the game and stranded a runner at third in the top of the ninth.

That opened the door for Quincy, which loaded the bases with one out after Joe Huffman was hit by a pitch, Simpson doubled and JD Ortiz was intentionally walked. The next two batters struck out, sending the game to extra innings.

“Obviously, it waa a little tough, but we still had that confidence going into the next inning,” QU freshman third baseman David Broughton said. “We still had a lot of belief that the game was not over yet. It was a little aggravating we didn’t get the job done then, but now you’re happy that we got it done eventually.”

IN the top of the 10th, the Cardinals used a leadoff single, a sacrifice bunt and a single by Will Brant to plate the go-ahead run. Another single by Dawson Tweet moved Brant into scoring position, and he walked home when a throwing error sent the ball out of play.

It meant the Hawks had to rally once again with their backs against the wall.

“The dugout did a good job of keeping the energy up,” Broughton said.

After Adam Lewis flew out to center field to open the bottom of the 10th, QU’s Brock Boynton singled to get the mojo going. Broughton followed with a single, bringing Dustin DuPont to plate. DuPont hit a walkoff home run in the 10th inning of the GLVC Tournament opener Wednesday against Missouri-St. Louis, but this time he was retired on a foul popout.

It meant sophomore shortstop Joe Huffman had to keep the inning alive.

“I told a lot of people I was praying in the on-deck circle to give me a chance, let me get up there,” Simpson said.

Huffman did just that, drawing a walk to load the bases and bringing Simpson to the plate.

“It was funny because I was talking to (Ortiz) afterward — he was in the on-deck circle when I was at-bat — and he was actually praying for me to end the game,” Simpson said.

Both of their prayers were answered. Simpson fouled off the first pitch from McDugall before blasting a fastball to right field that brought the entire crowd to its feet.

“I knew that hit was beating somebody,” QU coach Matt Schissel said. “I didn’t know if it was going over the fence or not. I knew it was beating somebody and we were scoring.”

Simpson wasn’t sure it was getting out either.

“I didn’t know if it was high enough to clear the fence,” Simpson said. “But once it took off, I was like, ‘It’s gone.’ I took one step out of the batter’s box and it was like, ‘That’s going over.’” 

The QU relievers came rushing out of the right-field bullpen to join a raucous celebration at home plate with an echoing crowd cheering Simpson on.

“It was a pretty surreal moment,” he said.

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