By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The Quincy Gems rode the arm of starting pitcher Taylor Robson as long as they could Wednesday night, then turned the ball to standout reliever Josh Janway.
Both pitchers delivered strong performances, combining on a two-hit shutout to lead the Gems to a 5-0 victory over the West Virginia Miners in Prospect League championship at QU-Stadium.
It gave Quincy its second Prospect League championship in three years. Coupled with the Gems’ three Central Illinois Collegiate League titles, the Gems now have five championships in franchise history since 1996.
The Gems rode on the wings of the league’s best offense all season and in their 15-5 playoff win Monday. But on this night, Quincy relied on the right arms of Robson and Janway.
Robson allowed only two hits in 7 1/3 innings and threw 122 pitches. Janway pitched the final 1 2/3 innings to close the game out.
"Taylor was fantastic, absolutely magnificent," Gems manager Chris Martin said. "He gave me more actually than what I was hoping for."
For a long time, it looked like Quincy’s only run would be Bryan Lippincott’s tape-measure home run to right field in the third inning. It was Lippincott’s second postseason home run after he blasted 10 homers in the regular season.
It was the only blemish surrendered by West Virginia starting pitcher Matt Shepherd, who escaped danger well. In 4 1/3 innings, Shepherd allowed four hits, walked five and hit a batter.
The Gems added four insurance runs in the eighth inning. With two outs, West Virginia reliever Matt Longfield hit Andrew Host, walked Ryan Lewis and walked Jake Romanski to load the bases. He then walked Anthony Hecht to allow a run.
Joey Church then entered from the bullpen and quickly surrendered a three-run double off the right-field wall to Gems second baseman John Pace.
"You could kind of see when (Pace) hit that ball the air kind of go out of them," Martin said. "I felt pretty good at that point."
The Miners, who surrendered the third-most walks in the league during the regular season, issued 10 walks and hit two batters Wednesday.
West Virginia’s best chance to score came during the fifth inning. Paul Rambaud walked with one out.
After Sam Frost struck out, Rambaud stole second and then moved to third on a wild pitch. Robson escaped the jam by inducing a ground ball to shortstop Anthony Hecht off the bat of Joe Koch. Hecht’s throw to first was in the dirt, but Gems first baseman Chris Serritella scooped out the throw to end the inning.
The Miners also stranded a runner at second base in the eighth inning.
West Virginia didn’t have a hit after the second inning.
"I thought that if we could've scored one run and tied it up, then the momentum would've changed a little bit and the pressure would've reversed itself," Miners manager Tim Epling said. "But we never really put a lot of pressure on Quincy."