The Quad Cities River Bandits earned their 50th win of the season on Saturday night, as their third-straight, series-clinching victory featured three solo home runs in a 5-3 final over the South Bend Cubs at Modern Woodmen Park.
After being walked off last night, the Cubs needed just two pitches to take the game’s first lead against A.J. Block. D.J. Artis led off the contest with a single and then on the lefty’s second pitch of the game, Yonathan Perlaza brought him home with an RBI double to go up 1-0.
Block and South Bend starter, Chris Clarke each went one-two-three in a scoreless second before Nelson Velazquez extended the visitors’ lead to 2-0 with a run-scoring single.
With Clarke retiring 11 of his 13 batters faced in 4.2 innings, Eric Cole got the Bandits on the board and cut his team’s deficit in half with a the first of three Quad Cities solo home runs to make it 2-1.
In his fifth and final frame, Block sandwiched a groundball with strikeout number five and six on the night and after his third-straight 5.0-plus inning start, got more run support from the offense when Will Hancock took Bryan King’s first pitch to left-center field for a game-tying RBI double in the bottom half.
With both teams into the bullpen, it was Garrett Davila on the hill for the Bandits in the top of the sixth when South Bend retook the lead on a two-out RBI single from Harrison Wenson who poked a grounder against the shift and put his team ahead 3-2.
After a working a scoreless bottom of the sixth, King reprised his role on the mound in the bottom of the seventh after Davila worked a scoreless top half. However, Quad Cities tied it up against the lefty on John Rave’s leadoff blast, his seventh of the year, that knotted the score again, this time at 3-3.
With help from a 5-6-3 double play, Davila worked another scoreless inning in the top of the ninth and saw his efforts rewarded in the bottom half when Seuly Matias started the frame with a solo bomb that left the ballpark over the left field wall. Five batters later, after Hunter Biggie walked the bases loaded, Hancock got his second RBI with a bases loaded walk to give the Bandits a 5-3 lead going to the ninth.
In his return to Modern Woodmen Park, Peyton Gray stranded a hit-by-pitch and struck out the side in the top of the ninth for his fourth save of the season, and Quad Cities’ series-winning, league-leading 50th win of the season.
The River Bandits will conclude the six-game set and a 12-game homestand in the finale on Sunday, as they’ll start Christian Cosby (2-2, 3.86) for the second time in the series against South Bend’s Dalton Stambaugh (1-0, 2.70). First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. CDT at Modern Woodmen Park.