ROCK ISLAND — Having exited last year's Iowa Amateur Baseball Association postseason early with back-to-back losses, the Quad City 76ers looked to leave that in the past.
Even after opening IABA State Tournament play last weekend with a 1-0 loss to the Norway Bandits at Walford, Iowa, the 76ers did not allow themselves to think back to last summer's quick out.
Re-focusing its efforts, the local semi-professional baseball club rallied to earn itself the reward of playing at least one more game, if not several more, on its home diamond at Douglas Park.
"This is an entirely new group, and we didn't bring last year up," Quad City manager Kevin Corrigan stated emphatically. "I know that was a downer for us as coaches, but the big thing was getting the chance to play at Douglas this weekend."
Champions of the Black Hawk Valley Conference, the 76ers take a 25-9-1 record into the second weekend of the IABA State Tournament as they seek their first state championship since 2007. That quest continues this afternoon at 2 against the Walford Hogs.
"Sometimes a long summer can wear on you, but I've not seen it with this group," said Corrigan. "These guys want to play more than one game (today). They want to take this as far as they can. If we play well, we'll win. I feel good about them."
Former Mercer County standout Conner Sharp, now pitching collegiately at Monmouth, will take a 5-3 record to the mound against Walford. If Quad City wins, Augustana's Chris Refka (4-2) would head to the bump for a 6 p.m. matchup with the Fairfax Stars.
Refka is coming off a win last Sunday against the Allison Cats, a game in which the 76ers scored three seventh-inning runs to break a 4-all tie and prevail 7-5 to advance to the second weekend.
Prior to that win, QC bounced back from its opening loss to Norway by rolling to an 11-0, five-inning win over the Geneseo Rooks as Collin Rogiers tossed a four-hitter and Tyler Ulfig and Erik Hoffman combined to drive in five runs.
"How we approached it was, we took that win (over Geneseo) and we went home, thinking we could come back and win on Sunday," Corrigan said. "We wanted to get back to the park where we play our games and where we feel comfortable, and not have to drive for an hour and 20 minutes.
"We went in with a good mindset. We wanted to keep playing, and it showed."
As they prepare to face Walford for the first time this season, the 76ers look to keep the focus on doing the things that enabled them to advance to this weekend.
"You can only control how you play," Corrigan said. "If we play well, we've got a good chance. We built our schedule around playing teams we don't see all the time, and hopefully that helps this time of year."