DAVENPORT, IOWA (September 9, 2021) — After claiming a play-off berth in a losing effort on Tuesday, the Quad Cities River Bandits beat the Peoria Chiefs 9-3 on Wednesday night to secure the top seed in the High-A Central Playoffs.
Despite working a scoreless top of the first, including a pair of strike-outs, Anderson Paulino’s first River Bandits’ start lasted just five batters, as Todd Lott’s comebacker in the top of the second ricocheted off of the righty and forced him from the game.
After Mitch Ellis took over out of the Bandits’ bullpen and kept the game scoreless through two-and-a-half, Quad Cities ended a streak of six-in-a-row set down by Peoria starter Connor Lunn and got a lead-off single from Eric Cole in the bottom of the third. Although Lunn retired the next two batters he faced, Maikel Garcia notched the first run of the ballgame with an RBI triple to center-field.
Two batters later, Michael Massey struck for his second RBI double in as many games and brought home Garcia to put the Bandits on top 2-0.
Now working with the lead, Ellis retired the side in order in the fourth and matched his season-high five strike-outs with a pair in the frame, before the Chiefs loaded the bases with no one out in the fifth. However, the reliever traded a run for two outs and got Masyn Winn to bounce into a 6-4-3 double-play that brought in Thomas Francisco. Despite Ellis walking Jordan Walker to put the go-ahead run on base, Caden Monke entered the game for Quad Cities and struck out Jhon Torres to end the rally.
With his team’s lead cut to one, Garcia again came through for the River Bandits and took advantage of Gavin Stupienski’s lead-off walk by launching a two-run opposite-field home-run against Lunn for his third blast of the season and a 4-1 QC lead.
Monke remained on the hill for the Bandits in the top of the sixth and retired the heart of the Peoria order one-two-three before his offense exploded against newly-entered Fabian Blanco in the bottom-half.
With Logan Porter and John Rave both walking to begin the frame, Blanco found himself with the bases loaded and no one out when he bobbled Nathan Eaton’s ground-ball, allowing him to reach. Cole then picked up his second hit of the game and drove in Porter with an RBI single, but it was the towering grand-slam home-run by Stupienski that blew open the Quad Cities’ lead, as the designated hitter’s fourth homer of the season made it 9-1.
Monke and Will Klein each gave up a Chief’s base runner in the seventh and eighth innings, however worked scoreless frames along with Peoria’s Jacob Schlesener and Leonardo Taveras.
Klein surrendered a two-run homer to Zade Richardson with two outs in the top of the ninth to make it 9-3, but the righty struck out Matt Chamberlain to end ballgame.
Thanks to a career-high 3.2 innings of relief work, Ellis (7-2) earned the win for Quad Cities, while Lunn (5-8), who gave up four earned runs in his five-inning start, took the loss for Peoria.
The River Bandits will look to take the lead in the six-game series on Thursday night and will work behind Charlie Neuweiler (2-2, 5.63), while Wilfredo Pereira (3-8, 3.43) gets the start for Peoria.
Having claimed the top seed in the High-A Central Playoffs, Quad Cities has earned home-field advantage for the five-game championship series, beginning on September 21. Tickets will go on sale for Game Three of the series on Tuesday, September 14, 10AM CDT. Tickets for Games Four and Five will become available if necessary. The full post-season schedule is below.
Game 1 (at TBD): 9/21
Game 2 (at TBD): 9/22
Game 3 (vs TBD, at Modern Woodmen Park, Sponsored By: Richards Building Supply): 9/24, 6:30PM
Game 4 (vs TBD, at Modern Woodmen Park) 9/25, 6:30PM *IF NECESSARY*
Game 5 (vs TBD, at Modern Woodmen Park) 9/26, 6:30PM *IF NECESSARY*
ABOUT THE BANDITS: The 2021 season marks the River Bandits’ first year as a new Advanced-A Major League affiliate. As such, the team will be offering higher-quality baseball than has ever before been played in the Quad Cities. Additionally, the Bandits will welcome a new MLB affiliate to the Quad Cities, the Kansas City Royals. The River Bandits anchor the Quad Cities’ sports-market, which The Sports Business Journal named the top minor-league sports-market in the country in 2015 and second-best minor-league market in its 2017 follow-up ranking. In 2015, 2017, and again in 2019, the River Bandits earned Ballpark Digest’s award for “Best Charitable Works” in Minor League Baseball, the only club to win that coveted award three times. For more information, visit www.riverbandits.com or contact General Manager Joe Kubly at (563) 333-2768.