With their season hanging in the balance in the decisive Game 3 of the Midwest League Western Division final, the Quad Cities River Bandits matched a season high with 17 hits and pounded the Beloit Snappers for a 9-5 win at Pohlman Field Monday night that sent the visitors to their second Midwest League Championship Series in three seasons.
The River Bandits won the best-of-three series, two games to one, and advanced to a best-of-five championship with the South Bend Silver Hawks, who won 9-5 at home over the Fort Wayne TinCaps in Game 3 of the Eastern Division final Monday night. Quad Cities will play Games 1 and 2 at Four Winds Field in South Bend Wednesday and Thursday. Game 3 will be at 7 p.m. Saturday at Modern Woodmen Park. If necessary, Games 4 and 5 would also be at Modern Woodmen Park on Sunday and Monday, respectively.
Quad Cities took a lead in the second inning against Snappers right-hander Derek DeYoung (0-1). First baseman Bobby Borchering broke an 0-for-12 postseason start with a single to left-center field. Third baseman Rio Ruiz lifted a two-run home run - his second of the playoffs - just to the left of the batter's eye in center field for a 2-0 lead. In the third inning, center fielder Teoscar Hernandez led off with his first postseason home run, and shortstop Carlos Correa followed with his first of the playoffs to cap the first pair of back-to-back home runs by the River Bandits this season. After left fielder Danry Vasquez drew a walk, DeYoung was removed for right-hander Trevor Bayless, who allowed another run to score after walking Ruiz, who made a delayed break for second with two outs, allowing Vasquez to score on a double steal when the throw went past second base.
With a 5-0 lead, right-hander Daniel Minor (1-0), who struck out four batters in the first two innings, allowed a leadoff, third-inning home run by Snappers shortstop Sam Roberts. Minor then retired six straight batters before center fielder Brett Vertigan and catcher Nick Rickles hit consecutive doubles to start the fifth inning. In his first postseason outing, Minor allowed six hits, no walks and two earned runs, and he matched season highs with six strikeouts in six innings.
Seven River Bandits had multi-hit games to amass 17 hits - matching their regular season high set April 6 at Kane County. Quad Cities built its lead by scoring in five straight innings. Already with a 5-1 lead in the fourth, designated hitter Brian Blasik doubled and scored on Correa's RBI groundout. In the fifth, Borchering had his third hit with a leadoff double against Bayless, and right fielder Jordan Scott hit an RBI double for a 7-1 lead. Borchering and Scott had team highs with three hits apiece. Scott finished a home run shy of the cycle.
In the sixth, Hernandez hit a one-out single, and Correa drove an RBI triple down the right-field line. Vasquez then hit an RBI single for a 9-2 advantage. Right-hander Juan Minaya inherited that lead to start the seventh but allowed the first four batters of the eighth to reach safely, and the Snappers closed within 9-5. Left-hander Mitchell Lambson worked around two hits in the final two scoreless innings.