The Moline baseball team keeps turning up the heat on its blistering start to the 2016 season.
Coming off a Saturday sweep of defending Western Big Six champion Galesburg, the Maroons' bats were on fire Monday in a nonconference game against Rock Island. They scored 11 runs in the third inning of a 14-2 victory and nearly had two players hit for the cycle in the five-inning game.
Austin Traub and Mitch Owens each went 4-for-4 at the plate and combined for seven RBIs. Traub did hit for the cycle. Owens was a triple away.
Moline had 17 hits against the Rocks to extend its winning streak to 11 games heading into Saturday's doubleheader at Quincy. Right now, the Maroons (13-2) feel like it's all clicking as they ride their wave of momentum.
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“Pitchers have been doing a great job throwing strikes, getting ahead of people,” Owens said after earning the Game 2 win against Galesburg in Saturday's key sweep. “The fielders have been doing a great job with minimal errors, that’s what we pride ourselves on, and hitters have been doing a great job with situational hitting, getting runs in when we need them, and it’s just been a great all-around effort by our team.”
Since getting shut out in back-to-back games against state power Edwardsville and Belleville West, the Maroons have averaged 8.2 runs per game and held opponents to 2.5 runs per game over their last 11 outings. They've won multiple blowouts, but have also executed well in tight games with one-run victories over Geneseo, Normal Community and Galesburg.
“We’re playing great defense,” senior pitcher Cam Fowler said Saturday. “Our infield is picking up the ball great, we’re not making many errors, we’re hitting the ball well. Just all-around, we’re playing good.”
The Maroons are coming off a 25-10 season in which they had a streak of eight straight regional titles snapped. They graduated their ace in Brett Newberg, now at Austin Peay, but returned a veteran lineup that has shown its experience through the first 15 games.
Fowler, a Nebraska-Omaha recruit, and Owens give the team a 1-2 punch on the mound that gives the Maroons confidence heading into every Big Six doubleheader.
“We give (Fowler) the ball and he goes out and does his thing,” coach Craig Schimmel said. “He and Mitch, they’ve been getting better and better each start throughout the year. That’s what we expect from those guys.”