‘Do your job’: Simple premise leads to extraordinary results as Hawks move one victory closer to super regional
QUINCY — It’s a philosophy so basic it comes across as too simple at times.
“Everybody does their job,” Luke Napleton said, “and the team wins.”
The Quincy University catcher can point to Friday’s performance against Northwood as the perfect example of that.
The top-seeded team in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional received a bulldogged pitching performance from Griffin Kirn, a pair of web gems from freshman left fielder Ben Dahlof and two more record-setting home runs from Napleton in dispatching Northwood 6-3 at QU Stadium.
The Hawks (46-9) now sit one victory away from reaching the super regional. Quincy needs to win once Saturday to advance with the first game beginning at noon. Northwood (42-18) must beat Quincy to force a winner-take-all showdown at 3:30 p.m.
Right-hander Jay Hammel will get the start for the Hawks.
“We’ll have the same approach as we do every day,” freshman shortstop Joe Huffman said. “Just go out there, get a lead early and hold onto it.”
The only part of that equation missing Friday was the early lead.
Timberwolves sophomore left-hander Zach Abbey, who did not pitch against the Hawks during a four-game series at QU Stadium in March, handcuffed the Hawks the first five innings. He allowed one hit and one walk up until that point.
“Even though their pitcher came out throwing a lot of strikes, we stuck to our game,” Napleton said. “He was a little deceptive. We hung in there, and once we got it figured out, we rolled.”
Brock Boynton got it started, leading off the sixth with a walk. He took second on a wild pitch and scored to tie the game on Gino D’Alessio’s double to right field. Dustin DuPont moved D’Alessio to third with a sacrifice bunt, and he strolled home on Napleton’s two-run home run to right field.
“Even if we come out slow, we know in the late innings we’re going to come through,” Huffman said. “Everyone has a job to do, and everyone always executes it.”
That includes Huffman. In the seventh, Austin Simpson led off with a walk and Huffman followed with a two-run home run to left field for a 5-1 advantage.
“I got a lot of outside pitches, so I just wanted to stay middle away and toward the right-center field gap,” Huffman said. “But I got that inside pitch and I just had to turn on it.”
Napleton extended the lead in the eighth with a solo home run, breaking the Great Lakes Valley Conference single-season record in the process, and the rest was up to the pitching staff.
Kirn worked seven innings, allowing one run and nine hits while striking out six. Left-hander Roman Harrison worked a flawless eighth, ran into a hiccup in the ninth and turned it over to right-hander Eli Ecton to get the final out.
It was just another example of everyone doing their job for the greater good.
“I think people on the outside looking in lose sight of that because we win so many games like we did Thursday,” QU coach Matt Schissel said, referencing the 18-8 slugfest against Wayne State. “You see the double-digit runs and the 10-run wins. You lose sight of a good baseball game. We keep throwing up zeroes, had good at-bats and made plays.
“Do your job. It’s the simplest thing. If everybody does their job when they come to the baseball field, we’re going to have a chance.”
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