McQuail hits his stride in MAAC play
The early portion of this year's baseball season was not the easiest start for Nick McQuail. Adjusting to a new position and hitting in the mid .230's was not the start the new third baseman had in mind, but as the season progressed and conference play began, McQuail has found his stride. McQuail has hit a whopping .378 in MAAC play this season, which leads the team and is good for fifth in the conference.
"I have never really worried about the numbers aspect of it," McQuail said. "I just work as hard as I can during practice, and do whatever it takes in games to help the team. I try to stay on an even keel whether things are going great or terrible statistically. I go through my same pregame routine every day no matter what the numbers are saying about my game."
With the tear that McQuail has been on, he has raised his average to .296 on the season and has seen time hitting in the five hole, where as he was hitting sixth or seventh earlier in the season. Having that extra bat in the order who is a consistent hitter has been huge for Marist, as it gives the Red Foxes depth throughout the lineup, making them less of a top heavy team.
"Nick was taking good at bats early in the year, he just really wasn't getting things to fall, but continuously throughout the year he's been able to take good at bats," Marist head coach Chris Tracz said. "He's been getting his bunts down, especially as of late, hes not striking out as much and he's put balls in gaps, putting good swings on balls. When he does that it just lengthens out our lineup which is really important for us."
Perhaps the peak of McQuail's tear came against Siena in what became a huge moment for the team. After dropping the first two games of the series in a doubleheader on Saturday, Marist found themselves staring at a must win game on Sunday. After blowing an early 4-1 lead, and coming back to force extra innings, McQuail tied the game in the twelfth inning, after he came around to score following his leadoff single.
In the thirteenth, he found himself at the plate with the bases loaded and a chance to be the hero. McQuail showed a flair for the dramatic as he drilled an 0-2 pitch into the gap in left-center field, sending the Red Foxes home with a win in walk-off fashion, an emotional win for a team that needed a win more than anyone.
"Being able to walk off a game is a great feeling from an individual stand point, but the feeling of knowing that you did something to help the team win on a given day is an even better one," McQuail said. "This is the most self-less group I have ever played with. Everyone is more concerned with getting a win, rather than how statistically successful they are."
What McQuail's play has done is forced teams to make a decision when pitching against Marist. They can no longer pitch around the Red Foxes big hitters, junior first baseman Mike Orefice and junior shortstop Zach Shank, because they have McQuail and sophomore Jake Berry waiting right behind them. As McQuail showed against Siena, when the Saints pitched around Orefice, he will make opposing teams pay for wanting to face him.
Looking forward, following the win against Siena, as well as two crucial away wins against conference foe Rider, Marist's conference record sits at 7-7 with nine conference tilts left to play. Each game for the Red Foxes is key down the stretch the team needs to keep up it's recent play in order to make the MAAC Tournament, which hosts only the top four teams in the conference.
"Grind it out and stand by my teammates," McQuail said, when asked what he plans to do down the stretch to get into the conference tournament. "As a team we need to grind out and find a way to bring our best stuff to the park every day. If we can bring our best effort on the mound, in the field and at the plate every day, we are going to be a tough team to play when it comes to MAAC Tournament time."
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