Burns, baby, Burns: QU senior middle outfielder provides spark in Missouri S&T twinbill sweep
Quincy University’s Kade Burns safely reaches third base in the fourth inning of Saturday’s 11-3 victory over Missouri S&T in Game 2 of a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader at QU Stadium. Photo by Matt Schuckman
QUINCY — Gino D’Alessio took a hack during batting practice Saturday morning and visibly winced from the pain in his back.
At that moment, Kade Burns knew it was better to be ready.
“I try to show up every day and be ready to go if something like this happens,” Burns said.
The University of Quincy baseball team needed the senior middle infielder to play a vital role in a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader against Missouri S&T that had regional ranking implications . Burns proved himself up to the task.
A flawless effort to replace D’Alessio defensively at shortstop was matched by Burns’ ability to go 4-for-7 at home plate, score two runs and drive two more as the Hawks swept the twinbill with 5-1 and 11-3 wins at QU Stadium.
“I feel pretty much comfortable every time I’m there,” Burns said. “Being comfortable and confident on the pitch is about having confidence in your preparation. I think our preparation as a team has been pretty much on point all season, and that’s what drives success.
The Hawks’ fourth straight win and 11th victory in the last 12 games moved them to 30-19 overall and 15-8 in the GLVC. It’s the seventh time in the past 10 years that Quincy has reached 30 wins, and the Hawks are guaranteed second place in the GLVC Blue Division regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s win.
That doesn’t diminish the importance of keeping the run going when the Hawks close the regular season at noon Sunday.
“I feel like we struggled through the season, but I think it brought us closer,” Burns said. “The chemistry is great. Everyone is excited to enter the playoffs. We play good baseball at the right time.
The perfect time.
“Yeah, it’s not getting much better,” Burns said.
Saturday’s all-around effort — strong throwing performances from right-hander Jay Hammel and left-hander Griffin Kirn, 14 error-free innings of defense and 20 combined hits — got the ball rolling in the right direction.
“We played as well as we could have played today,” Burns said.
In Game 1, Hammel gave up one run and four hits over five innings, striking out seven and walking two to improve to 7-2 overall. Senior southpaw Sam Stephens worked two scoreless innings to grab the stoppage.
Meanwhile, the offense provided ample support. Lance Logsdon gave Hammel the lead with an RBI groundout in the first inning. Dayson Croes hit a solo home run to right field in the third. Luke Napleton had an RBI single in the fifth. And Sebastian Martinez doubled and Zach Parks singled to drive in the points in sixth.
On the last drink, the Hawks took the lead with a fifth-inning three-run featuring RBI singles from Martinez, Burns and Napleton. In the six-run sixth, Parks and Burns had RBI singles and Brock Boyton hit a three-run home run.
Kirn didn’t need anything else. The Quincy Notre Dame graduate worked six innings, allowing three runs and four hits with seven strikeouts and a walk. Senior right-hander Alex Pribyl worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning.
The pitchers all benefited from a stellar defense that included Game 2’s last six outs recorded with strikeouts on the ground. Kirn and Pribyl combined to induce 13 eliminations.
Burns gobbled up four grounded outs in the last drink, including all three outs in the seventh inning. He had four assists and one takedown in Game 1.
“I’m very proud of my defense,” Burns said. “One of the reasons I was able to be on the pitch is the glove. That’s probably one of the strengths of my game.”
The Edwardsville, Ill., product has played in 15 games this season with a .314 average, while delivering 21 assists and 11 strikeouts without committing an error.
“Personally, it’s great to be in the lineup and producing at the same time,” Burns said.
He could have one last chance to do so at home on Sunday in senior day.
“It’s probably one of the last times I play here,” Burns said. “It was funny.”
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