Give the Moline Maroons offense a break and they will turn it into runs.
That has been the mode of operation for the Moline baseball team this season and what led them to an 8-1, 7-2 sweep of Quincy at Holgrem Field on Saturday. The wins gave the Maroons (18-6-1) the co-Western Big Six Conference title with Galesburg, with both finishing 9-1 in the league.
"All season, when one of our guys gets on by an error or a walk, the guys behind them really execute to get the runs home," Moline coach Craig Schimmel said. "We bunted people over, worked a couple hit-and-runs, and we had a couple sacrifice flies.
"We have had better offensive teams in the past, but these guys understand what they have to do and get the job done."
In the opener, the Maroons took advantage of five walks, a hit batter, four errors and a dropped third strike to score eight runs.
"That's what makes Moline such a good team," said Quincy coach Branden Crisp. "Every time they scored in that first game we gave them at least one extra out. They hurt us when we made mistakes."
Moline scored five times in the second inning with just two hits. Quincy gave up two walks, a hit batter and two errors. Then, Noah Sebben unloaded the bases with a three-run double to cap off the big inning.
From there, Devin Breiholz held down the Blue Devils (7-18, 1-9) working six innings, allowing five hits and striking out seven.
"It is amazing the way these guys get the job done," Breiholz said of the offense. "They find ways to get on base and get the runs in. That allows me to just trust the offense and my defense to just do my thing and not try to overpower anyone.
"To win the Big 6 and be a big part of it. I've just stayed humble and worked hard."
Walks helped the Maroons again in the nightcap, drawing seven to help grab the victory. Moline did have eight hits in Game 2, three of those by Sebben.
"That has been our M.O. — at least in Big Six games — where we work the count, take some walks and wear the pitcher down," Schimmel said. "Our thing is we take advantage of mistakes and we don't make mistakes ourselves.
"I don't think we have more than 10 errors in 10 conference games. Our pitchers throw strikes and don't worry about strikeouts because they know our defense can pick it."
That ability to take advantage certainly makes it nice for the pitchers. In Game 2 Jacob Pauwels went the distance, allowing five hits and striking out five.
"I think you would call our hitting contagious, where when we get someone on everyone steps it up and gets the runs in," Pauwels said. "It was really a good feeling to have a lead and finish it off to win the Big Six. Winning the second year in a row shows our hard work has paid off."
Michael Conner had a two-run home run in the opener, a two-run single in Game 2 and just missed a grand slam, having to settle for a sacrifice fly and his fifth RBI in the doubleheader.
"We didn't hit live pitching between last Friday and this Saturday but we still had some guys do some good things," Schimmel said. "Noah had the big hit to open things up in the first game. Michael had a great day with five RBIs."