In the week’s final contest at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium, the Quad Cities River Bandits held the Cedar Rapids Kernels to four baserunners and evened up the five-game series with a 6-0 win in Game Two of the High-A Central Championship Series.
Quad Cities needed just three batters to take the lead against Sean Mooney in the top of the first as after Maikel Garcia led off the game with a full-count walk, Nick Loftin launched a two-run blast over the left field wall for the first Bandits’ homer of the series and a 2-0 lead.
After Quad Cities’ starter Anthony Veneziano matched Mooney’s one-two-three frame in the second, Garcia struck for his second hit of the game and an opposite field solo home run to extend the lead to 3-0.
The Kernels made a move to the bullpen to start the fourth and called on Tyler Watson, who took over for Mooney after the righty allowed three runs in three innings. However, Watson struggled to find the zone out of the gate and walked John Rave, Nathan Eaton, and Eric Cole to load the bases with no one out. While Quad Cities took advantage and brought a run in when Gavin Stupienski bounced into a double play, one is all they would get as Watson struck out Will Hancock to end the threat.
Veneziano’s night came to an end after recording the first two outs in the bottom of the fourth. With two Kernels aboard, Nathan Webb struck out Alex Isola to strand the pair and maintain the lefty’s scoreless start.
With Andrew Cabezas taking over for Cedar Rapids in the fifth, both team’s arms stranded a base runner while Webb struck out the side before working a one-two-three frame in the sixth.
The River Bandits then tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the seventh off of Denny Bentley with Loftin plating Garcia on an RBI groundout and Rubendy Jaquez, who pinch hit for Michael Massey, scoring Tucker Bradley with a single.
As Chris Widger’s second man out of the bullpen, Zack Phillips pitched a perfect two innings including three strikeouts before passing the torch to Will Klein, who hammered down the win in the ninth and helped keep the Kernels off the bases for the final nine outs.
Thanks to 2.1 innings of shutout relief and five of the Bandits’ 14 strikeouts, Webb (1-0) earned the win for Quad Cities, while Mooney (0-1) took the loss after giving up three runs in his three-inning start.
The series continues on to Quad Cities on Friday where Dante Biasi (5-2, 3.77) will take the ball for the River Bandits against Cedar Rapids’ Casey Legumina (0-0, 5.79) at 6:30 p.m. CDT.