College Baseball

Beware Eads of March: Senior outfielder plays crucial role in Hawks' offensive outburst

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 2, 2020 7:40 am Updated: Mar. 2, 2020 8:07 am

QUINCY -- There are certain truths we've come to believe in each spring.

April showers bring May flowers. Birds of a similar feather flock together.

And as the temperature rises, the Quincy University baseball team's offensive productivity soars.

That was the case this weekend.

The first warm weather of the season -- the temperatures topped at 64 degrees Sunday afternoon -- led to a three-game sweep of Missouri-St. Louis in non-conference action at QU Stadium. The Hawks won both games of Sunday's doubleheader 8-4 and 9-1 by racking up 27 hits, belting seven home runs and pummelling bullpen pitchers.

"It kind of sucked going down to Florida and Mississippi and getting a taste of the warm weather before coming back here," QU senior right fielder Justin Eads said. "(Sunday) was pretty nice with all things considered, and we took advantage of it."

No one seized the moment better than Eads.

In the opening game, with the Hawks trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the third inning, Eads cracked a two-run home run to right field to tie the game. In the seventh, he led off with a home run to right field to give the Hawks a 5-4 advantage.

Quincy (7-2) never trailed again in the doubleheader.

"Eads has been on a really, really good kick," said QU sophomore designated hitter Lance Logsdon, who went 4 for 9 with eight RBIs hitting ahead of Eads. "He's seeing the ball well. Hopefully he can keep doing that.

"He's staying within his approach, going more to right-center. It's what he's good at and what he's going to be good at."

Eads added a solo home run to left field in the nightcap, finishing the day 4 for 8 with three home runs and four RBIs and raising his average to .417 in six starts as he is seeing the ball as well as anyone in the lineup.

"Yeah, pretty well," Eads said with a smile.

His first career home runs suggest he's seeing it quite well.

"He's been given a chance," QU coach Josh Rabe said. "He's kind of taken a hold of that chance and gone with it."

Others have, too. Logsdon has established himself as a dangerous No. 4 hitter, cracking a two-run home run in the first game and a grand slam in the nightcap. Freshman shortstop Nolan Wosman went 4 for 8 with a home run and two RBIs as the top five hitters in the lineup combined to go 20 for 43 (.465)

"It's amazing because I think it also helps guys behind you and in front of you," Eads said of his hot start. "If they get on base, you can drive them in. If they're hitting behind you, they get a chance to move you around. It's awesome. It's a great feeling."

It helps to know scoring outbursts won't be wasted.

The Hawks allowed the Tritons to score in just two of 27 innings played, got at least six innings from each starter in the series and saw their pitchers show some resolve to work through tough moments.

In the first game Sunday, junior left-hander Sam Stephens allowed four runs in the top of the second as he gave up run-scoring singles and an RBI double all with two out. He worked around having runners at the corners in the fourth, overcame two errors in the fifth and stranded a runner at third base in the sixth.

Sophomore right-hander Jack Widhalm worked the final three innings, allowing two hits and striking out one, to earn his first victory.

In the second game, sophomore right-hander Jay Hammel (2-1) gave up one run and four hits over six innings, striking out five and walking four. In the fourth inning, the Tritons loaded the bases with no outs thanks to two singles and an error, but Hammel induced a short flyout and two strikeouts to end the threat.

Three relievers combined for three scoreless innings with Brett Taucher striking out two.

"If we can get a lead and get through six innings with our starter, I like our chances," Rabe said. "Then we can throw the guys we need to throw in the order they need to throw to close a game out. We just need to limit big innings because I like our offense enough to get the job done. You never know when a (five-run inning) is coming."

It happened once Sunday as the Hawks scored three or more runs in four innings throughout the weekend.

"It puts us in a better spot to move forward," Eads said. "We know what we need to do now, and we'll keep pushing."