After the opening few weeks of the season yielded cold and rainy conditions, Moline wanted to take advantage of the first nice day of spring.
The Maroons did just that, scoring 19 total runs in a Western Big Six doubleheader sweep of United Township, winning the opener 6-2 and closing out the second leg 13-2 in five innings.
"We were excited to see a nice day, finally," center fielder Sam Monroe said. "I think that was our motivation, to come out here and jump on some baseballs today."
Monroe led the way offensively with seven RBIs in the two games. He hit a sacrifice fly as part of a three-run fourth inning that gave Moline a 3-1 lead in the first game, then clubbed a two-run single in the fourth inning that broke the game open.
He added four more RBIs in Game 2, which Moline won in five innings.
"The good thing is we had a lot of guys in scoring position today," Monroe said. "When we had guys in scoring position, I think the guys at the plate did a really good job of getting the runs in."
Michael Conner led the offense in Game 2, driving in six runs, including driving a pitch over the left field fence for a two-out grand slam that put Moline up 11-2. It was Conner's first ever grand slam.
"I think either the pitch before or two pitches before I missed a 2-0 fastball and then he threw another one in there and I was ready for it, especially with three runners on," Conner said. "It was good because we wanted to started off with a sweep of UT."
Lost in all the runs was the pitching Moline (8-4-1, 2-0) had from starters Devin Breiholz (1-1) and Jacob Pauwels (2-0). Breiholz allowed six hits and two runs but also struck out six batters in six innings of work, while Pauwels allowed two hits, one earned run and struck out four in five innings in Game 2.
"They were outstanding. We try to preach there's three phases of the game, pitching, defense and hitting," Moline head coach Craig Schimmel said. "We've been pretty good with the pitching and defense up to this point and our hitting kind of clicked. Our pitching has been, up to this point, pretty solid. Those guys came out and did exactly what we knew they were capable of doing."
The Panthers (2-7, 0-2) were led in the first game by Zach Markin, who was 3-of-4 and Tyler Runkle, who drove in Markin twice. UT led 1-0 before Moline scored one run in the third and three in the fourth inning. UT cut the lead in half in the fifth inning but Moline responded with two more runs in the bottom of the frame.
Lucas DeLaere drove in two runs in Game 2 for the Panthers, who fell behind 5-0 in the second inning, in part due to an error and a wild pitch.
"Second game, we were behind on the mound and just not throwing strikes. When you do that, the defense goes to sleep, we missed some fly balls and we allowed their hitters to be aggressive at the plate," UT coach Mike Meyers said. "I thought we competed a lot better in the first game."