Prospect League

Converted sidearmer gets game's biggest out for Gems

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 12, 2018 1:10 am

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Tyler Engel hasn't played much during his career as a baseball player for the University of Illinois.

He has played in 52 games in three seasons as a middle infielder, getting just 62 at-bats. He has 13 hits for a career .210 average.

Engel hopes to get more playing time when he goes back to Champaign for his senior season, but it likely will be at a different position.

Engel is just 3 for 27 at the plate this summer for the Quincy Gems, but he has been effective as a sidearm reliever, making eight appearances and compiling a 3.24 earned run average. His streak of 10 scoreless innings was snapped in Wednesday night's Prospect League game against the Hannibal Hoots, but he got the biggest out of the game in the seventh inning of a 4-2 victory at Clemens Field.

The Hoots trailed 4-0 but scored one run and had runners on second and third with one out when Engel got Joe Roscetti to strike out. However, Engel walked Tommy Kraus to load the bases, and up next was Dylan Dodd, Hannibal's leading hitter this season with a .330 average.

On a 3-2 pitch, Dodd hit a harmless fly ball to center to end the threat.

"My game plan was to throw something over the plate. I wasn't going to walk him," Engel said. "I wanted to challenge him, and I hoped my ball had enough movement."

Engel allowed another run in the eighth. Jordan Bock allowed a double in the ninth but retired the last three batters to earn his first save for the Gems.

Engel said Illini pitching coach Drew Dickinson observed late in the spring season that the team needed someone who threw sidearm. The seldom-used infielder hadn't pitched since his sophomore year at Table Grove VIT, and he had never thrown sidearm, but he was willing to try.

"I thought, ‘Shoot, I'll work on that,'" Engel said. "So one day, I said, ‘Let me just practice down here.' I was throwing strikes, and I thought, ‘Maybe we'll work on something.' I'm kind of learning while I'm out there. Every day, I try new grips. I'm like, ‘Well, that works' or ‘Don't try that again.' I'm just having fun with it."

Assistant coach Pat Robles said Dickinson had reached out to him before the season started to ask if Engel could get a chance on the mound.

"He's just been a dude," Robles said of Engel. "He's a strike thrower. He just pounds the zone. I was going to ride him tonight because our bullpen was a little thin, and it paid off."

Engel hopes his audition pays off.

"(Dickinson) said, ‘Any time you get video, send it to me,'" he said. "So that's what I've been doing. I pitched five innings the other night, and he said, ‘I thought you were going to be a 15-pitch guy.' I might not get to pitch as long (at Illinois) as I do here, but I just hope to get a chance in the fall."

Quincy, which won its third consecutive game, scored twice in the first inning when Riley Pittman hit a two-run double. The Game added another run in the fourth on Bailey Montgomery's RBI single to center, and Cody Klotz's off-the-end-of-the-bat single to center in the seventh scored another run. Klotz has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games.

Hannibal had nine hits but stranded nine baserunners.

"We had some opportunities, and we didn't take advantage of them," Hoots manager Clayton Hicks said. "That's how it goes sometimes. We've just gotta find a way to pull those out in the end."

Gems 4, Hoots 2

Quincy Hannibal

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Mntgmry dh 3 2 1 1 Mercado ss 3 0 1 0

Campbell rf 5 1 1 0 Roscetti 3b 2 0 0 0

Pittman 1b 3 0 2 2 Kraus cf-lf 4 0 0 0

Klotz cf 5 0 1 1 Dodd dh 4 0 1 0

Birdsong 2b 4 0 2 0 Humphries 1b 2 0 0 0

Crowl ss 3 0 0 0 Pasko 1b 1 1 1 0

Mantle lf 5 0 0 0 Goecks rf 4 0 1 0

Huber 3b 4 1 2 0 Thixton cf 2 0 0 0

McGuire c 3 0 0 0 Haring lf 1 1 0 0

Nozicka c 4 0 1 0

DeCello 3b-ss 4 0 3 1

Lane 2b 3 0 1 0

Totals 35 4 9 4 Totals 34 2 9 1

Quincy 200 100 100--4

Hannibal 000 000 110--2

E -- Klotz. LOB -- Quincy 13, Hannibal 9. 2B -- Pittman, Birdsong, Nozicka, DeCello. SB -- Pittman, Crowl, DeCello, Lane.

IP H R ER BB SO

Quincy

Nelson W,2-1 5 2-3 3 0 0 0 4

Engel 2 1-3 5 2 2 2 2

Bock S,1 1 1 0 0 0 2

Hannibal

Overstreet L 0-5 6 4 3 3 3 5

Soto 1 2-3 4 1 1 4 1

Kuck 1 1-3 1 0 0 0 2

WP -- Overstreet. HP -- Birdsong (by Overstreet), Crowl (by Overstreet), Lane (by Nelson).

Umpires -- Plate, Tim Burch; Bases, Justin Phillips. T -- 2:53.