Although the Quad Cities River Bandits fell 6-4 to the Peoria Chiefs on Tuesday at Modern Woodmen Park, a Cedar Rapids’ loss clinched them a birth in the 2021 High-A Central Playoffs and brought them a game away from securing the first overall seed in the five-game postseason series.
A win in game one against the Chiefs would have also clinched the Bandits a playoff spot and with a two-run homer from Michael Massey off of Mac Lardner in the bottom of the first, Quad Cities got out to an early 2-0 lead.
Maikel Garcia pushed his club’s advantage to three with an RBI single in the second and gave starter, Christian Cosby—who worked six-up, six-down through the first two frames—breathing room to allow a run in the third, as Jordan Walker brought in the first Chiefs’ tally with a run-scoring single.
After a scoreless fourth, which saw the Bandits turn one of two double plays on the night, Peoria made it a 3-2 game on a solo shot by Aaron Antonini. Cosby then struck out the next two batters he faced before turning the mound over to Patrick Smith, who struck out Masyn Winn to end the frame.
The Chiefs again threatened in the sixth and loaded the bases with no one out, but Smith was able to escape with a strikeout and a 6-4-3 twin killing to keep the Q.C. lead intact.
In the seventh however, Peoria put two men aboard for Jordan Walker, who smashed the go-ahead three-run homer to chase Smith and put the Chiefs up 5-3. Jhon Torres kept the rally going with a double off of newly entered Kasey Kalich, but the righty got Pedro Pages to ground out to end the inning.
Enmanuel Sanders retired the Bandits for nine-straight outs from the fifth to the seventh and then was replaced by Sean Kealey, who allowed Quad Cities to load the bases in the eighth, but got Eric Cole to bounce out to second to keep the home team off the board for the sixth consecutive inning.
Peoria added another on Walker’s RBI single for his fifth RBI of the game in the top of the ninth and, although the Bandits got a run-scoring double from Massey, Jack Ralston struck out Nathan Eaton with the tying runs in scoring position to end the ballgame.
With three shutout innings, Solano (5-0) got the win for Peoria, while Smith (1-1) took the loss for the River Bandits after surrendering three runs over two innings.
Quad Cities will look to even up the set on Wednesday and clinch the number one overall seed in the postseason tomorrow behind Anderson Paulino (0-1, 10.13), who will matchup against Peoria’s Connor Lunn (5-7, 3.99) for a 6:30 p.m. CDT first pitch at Modern Woodmen Park.