The Quad Cities River Bandits got the tying run on base in the ninth, but were held to just one run for the first time since August 18 on Tuesday and fell in game one of the High-A Central Championship to the Cedar Rapids Kernels by a score of 2-1 at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Starters A.J. Block and Louie Varland both stranded two-out singles in the first inning before each allowing their only run of the game in the second. For the Bandits, it was Nathan Eaton’s one-out double on an 0-2 pitch that set up for Eric Cole, who reached on an infield single. With the Kernels deep into a shift, Edouard Julien ran out of time to nab Eaton who scored from second to put Quad Cities up 1-0.
The Bandits then loaded the bases after a Logan Porter walk and a base hit by Gavin Stupienski, but Varland got the top of the order in Maikel Garcia and Tucker Bradley to ground out and pop out to avoid further danger.
In the bottom half, Block needed just three pitches to record the first two outs, but back-to-back doubles by Jair Camargo and DaShawn Keirsey tied the game at 1-1 before Anthony Prato grounded out to end the inning.
Both teams continued to match each other in the third with Block and Varner turning double plays to eliminate one out singles before posting zeros in the fourth and fifth.
While Varland remained in the game and stranded a Michael Massey single in the top of the sixth, Zach Haake took over for Block, who struck out three in his five one-run innings, and navigated out of a two-out bases loaded jam sparked by errors on Eaton and Stupienski. But after Haake walked Camargo to fill the bags, Keirsey bounced out to end the threat.
Quad Cities’ bats were once again quieted by Varland in the top of the seventh, the righty’s final frame, and gave the ball to Caden Monke for the bottom half, who struck out the side plus one thanks to a dropped third strike.
With the game still tied up in the eighth, Osiris German entered out of the Kernels’ bullpen and pitched the second-straight one-two-three inning for Cedar Rapids. Monke matched for the first two outs in the bottom of the frame until Camargo lifted the ball to right field and took Bradley’s leaping glove with it over the fence for a go-ahead wall scraper.
Trailing 2-1, the Bandits faced Zach Featherstone in the ninth and had no answers for the lefty who, despite allowing a two-strike single to John Rave, struck out the side to give the Kernels a 1-0 lead in the series.
German (1-0) got the game one win with a perfect inning of relief, while Monke, who gave up just one run with five strikeouts in two innings, got tagged with the loss.
The River Bandits will look to even the series back up tomorrow in the set’s final game in Cedar Rapids and will work behind Anthony Veneziano (6-4, 3.75) who toes the rubber against the Kernels’ Sean Mooney (0-1, 6.23). First pitch at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial stadium is set for 6:35 p.m. CDT.