For most of the season, the Peoria Chiefs have handled the Quad Cities River Bandits by leading the series 9-5, but this 4-game set was a different story. The River Bandits swept the Chiefs to even the series at 9 a piece with comeback victories in 3 of the 4 games and outscoring them 16-9.
Wednesday night’s game looked hopeless, as the River Bandits fell behind 0-3 after 6 innings, but in the 9th, their walk-off victory was exciting for both them and their home fans. Danny Vasquez pounded 3 hits including a 2-run homer in the ninth to tie the game. Bobby Borchering singled Carlos Correa home for the winner.
Starter Mark Appel held the Chiefs to 1 run during his 4 2/3 innings of work, and Michael Lambson (7-3, 3.91 ERA) picked up the win by getting the final 5 outs including a strikeout for the 4-3 win.
On Thursday, the River Bandits took both games in the doubleheader. Again, being down 1-3, bats came alive. Rio Ruiz solo home run was the only run, until the 5th inning when Teoscar Hernandez tripled home Brian Blasik, then Vasquez singled home Hernandez, and Dan Gulbransen drove in Vasquez with his 2-out single. Hernandez would then add an insurance run in the 6th by singling in Terrell Joyce.
Starter Lance McCullers (6-5, 3.04 ERA) gave up 3 runs off 7 hits with 2 walks, but struck out 7. Jordan Jankowski finished up for his 4th save, keeping the final score at 5-3, River Bandits.
The 2nd game of the doubleheader became more of a pitching duel, as the River Bandits came out ahead 2-1, while outhitting the Chiefs, 6-4. Vincent Velasquez (8-4, 3.38 ERA) shut down the Chiefs by giving up only 1 run off 3 hits, 3 walks and 7 strikeouts. Velasquez leads the team with 8 wins. Juan Minaya finished the last 3 outs for his 6th save, even though he had two runners aboard with a hit and a walk with two outs.
Austin Elkins tripled in the 3rd, and Vasquez came through again with a 2-out single to score Elkins. Back-to-back doubles in the 6th by Correa and Gulbransen produced another run, which is all the River Bandits needed.
Friday nights’ contest was another comeback for the River Bandits. Down 0-2 in the 4th, Jobduan Morales doubled Jordan Scott, who singled, home to start the River Bandits’ rally. The following inning, Hernandez homered, Correa doubled, advanced on a passed ball, then scored on Gulbransen’s single, and Morales singled home Gulbransen for a 3-run 5th.
The River Bandits added 1 more in the 6th with another Hernandez triple, as he batted home Elkins to make the score 5-2. Starter Chris Devenski (1-2, 5.21 ERA) only gave up 2 runs off 7 hits, 1 walk, and 1 strikeout, but the relieving crew of Juri Perez, Lambson, and Minaya shut out the Chiefs for 4 innings to keep the score final at 5-2. Minaya picked up his 7th save.
The River Bandits travel to Iowa neighbor to the west Cedar Rapids to take on the Kernels for a 4-game series. This matchup is crucial for both, because the River Bandits are only 1 1/2 games behind the Midwest League Western leading Kernels. The River Bandits lead the series this season, 5-4. Go River Bandits!