Backed by four long-balls, the Quad Cities River Bandits took game one of their six-game set against the Beloit Snappers on Tuesday and won their ninth one-run game of the year with a 6-5 final at Pohlman Field.
Anthony Veneziano got the start for the River Bandits, his 13th of the year, and struck out five in his first two scoreless frames to allow his squad to take a 3-0 lead with a pair of dingers from Will Hancock and Michael Massey in the top of the third off of Kyle Nicolas, who took over after Beloit starter, John Curtiss worked his scheduled one inning in a rehab appearance.
Beginning in the bottom of the third, the Snappers would tie the game with one run in three consecutive innings. First, a sacrifice-fly from Thomas Jones got the home team on the board, then Bubba Hollins’ RBI double made it a one-run game in the fourth and chased Veneziano after four innings. After Nicolas worked a one-two-three top of the fifth, Beloit tied it up at 3-3 as Jones again struck against Quad Cities, this time off of Yohanse Morel, with a run-scoring double down the left field line.
In the top of the sixth, the second and final frame that would see Bandits’ offense, Eric Cole launched a moonshot on the first pitch of his third at-bat and put the visitors back on top, 4-3. Two batters later, after walking Will Hancock on four straight pitches, Nicolas surrendered his fifth and sixth runs of the game as John Rave smacked a two-run homer to plate Hancock and re-give Q.C. a three-run lead at 6-3.
Still on the hill for the Bandits, Morel retired the side in order in the top of the sixth, but gave up three singles, including an RBI knock to Will Banfield and an RBI groundout to Griffin Conine that made it one run game, before he got Kameron Misner to lineout to end the frame.
In his second inning of work, Andrew Nardi stranded a walk and struck out the side in the top of the eighth to keep the River Bandits’ lead at one, but Peyton Gray matched him with a three-up, three-down frame of his own in the bottom half.
Justin Evans allowed a leadoff single to Rave in the top of the ninth, but then recorded his team’s 16th, 17th, and 18th strikeouts of the night to give his squad one more chance in the bottom of the ninth. However, Gray again shut the door, this time for good, and faced the minimum, thanks to picking off the tying run in Ricky Aracena who walked to start the inning.
Veneziano worked four innings and allowed two runs while striking out seven in his start, but the win went to Morel (4-1) despite him giving up three runs in three innings. The loss went to Nicolas (3-2), the only Snappers’ pitcher to allow runs, as his 4.2 innings were tagged with six earned on seven hits and four walks. Thanks to two scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth, Gray (2) earned his second save of the year for Quad Cities.
Now sitting at 39 wins on the season, the River Bandits have a chance to be the first team in the High-A Central to hit 40 in game two on Wednesday. They’ll send A.J. Block (2-1, 4.23) to the bump against Beloit’s Zach King (2-7, 5.56) for a 6:35 p.m. CDT first pitch at Pohlman Field.