The Kirkwood Eagles made it look easy for much of the season, winning 25 of 29 games and averaging 10 runs every time they took the field. They looked nearly invincible.
Then came a 13-2 loss, followed by a 16-0 blowout, followed by a 9-2 setback and suddenly the Eagles were struggling a little bit this week on their own diamond.
Thankfully for Kirkwood, the mini-slump has ended.
The fourth-ranked Eagles bounced back and stomped NIACC, 12-2, in five innings in the second game of their conference doubleheader Thursday in relatively balmy weather that reached the high 60's.
NIACC dumped the Eagles in the first game Thursday, 9-2, but Kirkwood righted the ship in Game 2.
The split left the Eagles at 26-7 overall and 10-2 in the ICCAC conference, good for a two-game lead over Southeastern in the league standings.
Taylor Jackson went 3-for-3 with a double and drove in four runs for Kirkwood in the nightcap. Korry Howell, who struck out three straight times in the first game, bounced back in the lead-off spot in Game 2 and went 3-for-4 with a double and three runs.
Izaya Fullard and Kal Youngquist had two hits for Kirkwood in the second game and Ellison Hanna drove in two runs. The Eagles exploded for eight runs in the third inning and scored four times in the fifth to win by the 10-run mercy rule.
Cameron Leff (5-1, 2.56 ERA) went the distance for the Eagles in the 9-2 victory, allowing only one hit and one earned run with seven strikeouts.
Kirkwood sophomore Cameron Lee (5-1) was touched for a three-run homer and a two-run blast in the first game and departed after five innings, having allowed seven earned runs. He struck out nine batters, but allowed eight base hits.
Jackson belted a solo home run in the first game and Fullard had two hits.
NIACC 042 012 0 - 9 11 0
Kirkwood 000 200 0 - 1 4 0
L - Lee.
NIACC 020 00 - 2 1 1
Kirkwood 008 04 - 12 14 0
W - Leff.