The Quad Cities River Bandits saw their seven-game winning streak come to an end on Friday night, as they fell to the Cedar Rapids Kerels by a score of 4-2 at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium in game four of a six-game set.
Cedar Rapids struck early against Quad Cities starter, A.J. Block, who hit Edouard Julien to start the bottom of the first. After a subsequent single by Alex Isola and a walk to Matt Wallner, Yunior Severino came through with the bases loaded and knocked in a pair to give the Kernels a 2-0 lead.
Two batters later, after Wander Javior became the fifth straight man to reach against Block, Seth Gray added another run on and RBI groundout, before the lefty struck out Michael Helman got DaShawn Keirsey Jr. to bounce out and strand the bases loaded.
Louie Varland, who got the start for the Kernels, needed just ten pitches to set down the Bandits in the top of the second and saw his lead grow to four when Kyle Schmidt’s leadoff double turned eventually scored on Wallner’s RBI blooper to center in the bottom half.
The Quad Cities offense used a leadoff single from Gavin Stupienski and a pair of walks from John Rave and Maikel Garcia to load the bases with one away in the top of the third, but Varland settled down after a mound visit and retired Michael Massey and Seuly Matias on just three pitches to keep the Bandits off the board.
Block marked his final frame with a scoreless third and was replaced by Yohanse Morel in the fourth who matched Varland’s one-two-three top half with a three-up, three-down inning of his own.
Stupienski again posted a leadoff hit for the Bandits to start off the fifth and after two quick outs, was plated for Quad Cities’ first run as Maikel Garcia notched his first High-A triple and brought his team’s deficit to 4-1.
Varland remained in the game for the Kernels to start the sixth, but surrendered a pair of doubles to Matias and Jake Means, which scored Matias for Bandits’ run number two. Varland was able to strike out Will Hancock for the frame’s first out, but need help from Melvi Acosta, who took over and struck out Stupienski and Bradley to end the rally.
After working clean frame in the fifth in relief of Yohanse Morel, Garrett Davila worked a one-two-three sixth and ended up crafting four scoreless innings with four strikeouts out of the bullpen, however, Acosta and Zach Featherstone, who worked two scoreless innings and struck out the tying run in Matias to end the game in the ninth, blanked Quad Cities for the final third of the contest on the way to the Kernels’ first victory of the week.
Thanks to 5.2 innings of two-run, five-strikeout baseball, Varland (2-0) got the win for Cedar Rapids, while Block (3-2) suffered his second loss of the year by allowing four runs over three innings.
Quad Cities will have another shot to claim the series on Saturday, as Christian Cosby (2-2, 4.37) will get the ball for Chris Widger against the Kernels’ Tyler Beck (2-1, 2.06). First pitch at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CDT.