Moline coach Craig Schimmel talked like a coach who had just been swept on his home field Saturday in a doubleheader against United Township.
Panthers’ coach Mike Meyers and his Panthers were all smiles after Game 2, a 3-1 UT victory.
But actually, neither team lost the day.
Moline had a chance at a sweep after winning the opener behind the booming bats of Eric Maffie (towering two-run homer to left) and Brody Harding (two-run double to center) for a 5-3 win.
Maffie, a junior, said the pitch he launched from UT’s Kelly Osburn was no surprise.
“I just knew I was going to get the pitch I got, up-and-in,” he said. “It was a high fastball and I knew I liked it and took a huge hack at it. I was expecting a fastball.”
He wasn’t expecting the Maroon bats to go mostly silent in the second game.
“It was very disappointing,” he said as Moline fell to 9-5 (3-1 in the Western Big Six). “We were hoping we could go undefeated in Big Six play. We are hoping we can come back and win all the rest.”
UT felt just the opposite regarding the second game. The Panthers salvaged the day behind righthander Cole Walker’s complete game four-hit, six-strikeout performance. It was his first win and the Panthers' first in Big Six play.
“I was proud of the way our guys came back and battled back today,” Meyers said.
Walker’s effort was no surprise to him.
“(Walker) has had a great start to the season,” Meyers said. “I’ve got complete confidence in him to go out there and throw strikes. He went out there and did that today, so good job on his part.”
Walker said he knew the importance of the game when he took the mound. A loss would have left UT 0-4 to start the Big Six season.
“I tried to get my best stuff going and get my team in a spot to win the game,” the junior said, noting fastball location and throwing his curve late to get hitters off balance were keys for him. “Hopefully, it’s a turnaround for the rest of the season. We played a lot of great ball out here, today.
“Today was the first day we had everything going for us, fielding, the sticks, throwing,” he added.
Schimmel wore a concerned look. His team went without Illinois commit Harding in the second game because the home plate umpire ejected him after Harding thought he walked on a pitch and lofted his bat in a normal fashion and began running to first. Getting booted meant he could not play Game 2. It did not appear Harding said anything.
But Joran Benson, who won the opener to improve his record to 4-0 in the opener, played short admirably and even doubled in the second game.
“It certainly changes what you want to do with your lineup,” Schimmel said. “We feel we have guys who can fill in.”
But it was clear he was not pleased with his pitching.
“We walked six in the first game and three of the six scored,” he said. “We walked too many guys and put too many guys on base. If we are going to play defense like we played the last two weekends, we’ve got to trust the guys behind us and pitch more to contact.”
Schimmel credited the Panthers (3-8,1-3) for taking advantage of situations, including scoring on a wild pitch in the top of the sixth to boost the lead to two runs.
“Anything can happen in a one-run game,” he said. “They took advantage of opportunities.”