River Bandits Split Double-Header With Wisconsin Timber Rattlers

The Quad Cities River Bandits

Photo: Manuel, Mark (uploader)

After a postponement of the series opener last night, the Quad Cities River Bandits took one of two games from the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on Wednesday, as they were walked off 8-7 in game one and then took game two 2-1 at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium.

Anthony Veneziano and Reese Olson got the start for Quad Cities and Wisconsin respectively in the night’s first contest and each faced the minimum while combining for five strikeouts in innings one and two. However, both offenses would strike in the third.

Thanks to a leadoff single and a steal of second by Jimmy Govern in the third, Tucker Bradley’s seventh double of the season plated the opening salvo to give the Bandits a 1-0 lead. The next batter, Nick Loftin, worked a seven- pitch walk to put two men on for Michael Massey who turned on a 1-2 pitch for a three-run blast to complete the four-spot and put his team on top 4-0.

The Timber Rattlers quickly responded in the bottom half though and tagged Veneziano for a pair on Hayden Cantrelle’s two-run double that cut the Q.C. lead in half.

Olsen set down the Bandits in order in the top of the fourth and allowed his offense to tie the game at 4-4 after a pair of Wisconsin two-baggers, one of the RBI variety from Je’Von Ward, and then a run-scoring single by LG Castillo.

With Olsen still on the hill in the fifth, Quad Cities got the lead back on Massey’s fourth RBI of the game, an infield hit that scored Logan Porter and made it 5-4, Bandits and chased Olson from the game after 4.2 innings.

Veneziano concluded his day with a scoreless bottom of the fifth before Will Klein took the hill for Chris Widger and stranded a walk in the sixth to keep his squad’s lead intact.

In the bottom of the seventh, however, Wisconsin loaded the bases with one out against Klein and forced Davila into the game to face Korry Howell, who came within feet of a walk-off grand slam, but instead made it 7-6 with a two-run double off the leftfield wall.

After an intentional walk to Thomas Dillard to load the bases on batter later, Joe Gray Jr., in his Timber Rattlers debut, reached on an infield hit with Cantrelle scoring to tie the game, but then turned into the hero as Loftin threw the ball away trying to record an out at second and allowed Howell to score and win the game 8-7.

Despite both starters working into the fifth, neither factored into the decision. The Wisconsin win went to Cristian Sierra (1-1) who kept the Bandits off the board in the top of the seventh, while Davila (2-2) was charged with a blown save after allowing one unearned run on two hits and a walk and failing to record an out.

The loss marked the River Bandits’ first loss of the season to Wisconsin (six games).

In game two of the twin bill, it was A.J. Block for Quad Cities and Victor Castaneda for Wisconsin, who went head- to-head on the mound and each went five innings and struck out six, but it was the home team that struck first in the opening frame when David Hamilton’s leadoff single turned into a 1-0 Wisconsin lead on Dillard liner to right that scored the shortstop from second.

Trailing 1-0, the River Bandits used a fielding error to mark their first run and tie the game in the top of the second as Eric Cole, who reached earlier on a single of his own, scored from third as Will Hancock was the one to put the ball in play. One batter later, a second unearned run would be handed to Castaneda thanks to a Bradley sac-fly that brought in John Rave from third and gave the Bandits the 2-1 lead.

Just one walk from each hurler would be the only base runners allowed by Block and Castaneda through the rest of their outings that included five combined strikeouts in the fourth inning.

The sixth inning saw Brady Schanuel take the hill for Matt Erickson who allowed a pair of singles, but faced just one over the minimum in a scoreless frame, while it was Peyton Gray for the Bandits in the bottom half who stranded a leadoff walk.

In the top of the seventh, Bradley came through with his second double of the night, his first in game two, to put a man in scoring position for Quad Cities with one out, but a groundball from Jeison Guzman and a popup from Nick Loftin killed the threat.

Down to their final three outs in the bottom half, the Timber Rattlers were dominated by Peyton Gray who gave up an infield hit to Gray Jr., but struck out the side to nab a spilt of the doubleheader and his first save of the season thanks to two scoreless innings and four punch-outs.

Block (2-1) earned his second win of the campaign with his second-consecutive five-plus inning start and allowed just one earned run on four baserunners, while Castaneda (1-3) was the tough-luck loser who allowed two unearned runs also on four baserunners.

The River Bandits will have the opportunity to win their seventh game of the season in eight against Wisconsin tomorrow night at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium and will throw Asa Lacy (2-4, 4.83) against the T-Rats’ Carlos Luna (1-0, 0.76) as the pair will toe the rubber at 7:05 p.m. CDT.

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