For the first time in 2021, the Quad Cities River Bandits found themselves on the wrong end of a comeback as they dropped their series opener to the Dayton Dragons 11-7 on Tuesday at Day Air Ballpark.
The River Bandits didn’t waste any time in the early innings and jumped on Dayton starter, Graham Ashcraft who, after walking Eric Cole and hitting Nick Loftin to begin the evening, surrendered a RBI single to Jeison Guzman. One batter later, Michael Massey poked his own one-bagger into center and drove in Nick Loftin for a 2-0 Q.C. lead.
Asa Lacy faced the minimum, including two strikeouts in the bottom of the first, and quickly saw the Quad Cities’ offense spring back into action in the second when the bottom of the order set up Loftin for a RBI, who scored William Hancock with a base hit. After Ashcraft uncorked a wild pitch to score Tucker Bradley, Jeison Guzman struck again for the Bandits and brought home Loftin on his second RBI single of the day, making it 5-0 visitors.
A scoreless third saw newly entered Sam Hellinger and Lacy strand a walk, but in the fourth both pitchers allowed solo shots. For the River Bandits, it was Loftin who registered his second of the year, while Alex McGarry got the Dragons on the board with his first.
With the game now 6-1 entering the fifth, both teams made a move to the bullpen. It was Jake Gilbert for Dayton, who allowed another Quad Cities run-producing single; this time from Bradley who scored Eaton to push the lead to 7-1.
Dante Biasi worked a one-two-three inning in the bottom of the fifth in relief of Lacy, who exited the game having allowed one run in a four-inning start, but then found himself in unfamiliar territory in the sixth.
After allowing a single and a walk over the first three batters of the bottom half, Juan Martinez and McGarry launched back-to-back blasts off of the River Bandits lefty who then, after recording the second out of the inning on a groundball, gave up his third four-bagger in four batters when Quin Cotton launched a solo shot for his second of the year that cut the Q.C. lead to just 7-6.
Adam Lukas came on in search of the final out of the sixth, but walked Miguel Hernandez before being removed due to injury. Yohanse Morel would eventually end the frame by striking out Francisco Urbaez, but the Dragon’s offense was far from over.
Quad Cities mustered nothing in support of its lead in the seventh and saw it walk away in the bottom half as Dayton used four free passes, including a hit by pitch, to put Morel in a bases loaded situation. The right-hander was able to strikeout McGary on six pitches, but then gave way to Garrett Davila.
With Cotton at the plate and two outs, Davila was able to work a groundball out of Quin Cotton, but Eaton’s overthrow of first base allowed both McAfee and Martinez to score and extended the inning for Hernandez who brought in both Eric Yang and Cotton on a two-run single that ballooned the Dayton lead to 11-7.
Now working with a lead, the Dragons turned to Braxton Roby who worked out of a two-men on, one-out jam to silence Quad Cities in the eighth, before he and Jacques Pucheu set down the Bandits in order in the top of the ninth to secure the win.
Although just one his four runs allowed were earned, Morel (2-1) ended up with the loss for the River Bandits, while Gilbert got the win in Dayton’s comeback effort.
In game two on Wednesday, Zach Haake (1-0, 1.69) will take the ball for Quad Cities and oppose Spencer Stockton (2-0, 1.42) who makes the start for the Dragons at 6:05 p.m. CDT.