SOUTH BEND, INDIANA (August 23, 2021) — After guaranteeing a split of the six-game series the previous night, the Quad Cities River Bandits and South Bend Cubs will require a Game-Six rubber match as the Bandits fell 4-2 on Saturday night at Four Winds Field to even the set at three games each.
Starting-pitching controlled the first three innings of the ballgame, as Charlie Neuweiler and Anderson Espinoza combined to strand three total base-runners and punched out eight in scoreless frames.
With a lead-off single to open the fourth, Michael Massey notched the first River Bandits’ hit, but was eventually thrown out in a run-down between second and third to end the threat and help Espinoza work a fourth clean inning.
In the bottom-half, South Bend got a lead-off single of its own courtesy of Yonathan Perlaza, who, after a wild pitch and RBI single from Tyler Durna, scored the game’s first run to put the home team up 1-0. Three batters and a mound visit later, Neuweiler gave up a second run on a base hit by Bryce Windham to make it 2-0 before the righty ended the frame two batters later.
Quad Cities stranded a lead-off walk from Jake Means in the top of the fifth, but, despite allowing two men into scoring-position with just one out in the bottom-half, Neuwelier kept his team’s deficit at two and got Alexander Canario and Bryce Ball to line out and ground out to dance out of danger.
With five innings in the books, South Bend turned to its bullpen and grabbed Bailey Horn, who ended up on the hook for the first QC run when a pair of wild pitches allowed Michael Massey to trot home on John Rave’s RBI single that trimmed the lead in half.
However, the Cubs answered with another pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth when Bryce Windham’s solo homer and Luis Vaquez’s run-scoring single forced the River Bandits to go to Garrett Davila, who replaced Neuweiler with two outs and struck out Perlaza on seven pitches to exit the inning with a 4-1 score.
Both relievers worked a scoreless frame in the seventh, but Quad Cities inched closer against Eduarniel Nunez in the eighth. After Nick Loftin struck out looking to open the inning, Massey’s second hit of the game, a double, allowed the Bandits to score an easy run when Liam Spence let a ground-ball off the bat of Rave go under his glove and plate the Bandits’ second tally.
In the bottom-half, newly-entered Garrett Davila needed just eight pitches to retire the Cubs in order and maintain the two-run game, but Nunez stranded a pair of walks in the top of the ninth thanks in large part to Gavin Stupienski bouncing into a double-play before Nathan Eaton grounded out to end the ballgame.
Despite working his third start of five or more innings, Neuweiler (2-2) took the loss for Quad Cities after surrendering four earned on nine hits, one walk, and three strike-outs in 5.2 innings. Espinoza (1-3) worked five scoreless and stranded one hit, three walks, and punched out seven en route to his first Cubs’ win of the year.
The series-deciding game six will feature a rematch of Game One starters, as Anthony Veneziano (4-4, 4.32) will square off against Max Bain (3-6, 6.07) for a Sunday matinee beginning at 1:05PM CDT at Four Winds Field.
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.