GENEVA, Ill. - A three-run bottom of the first inning propelled the Kane County Cougars to an Independence Day victory over the Quad Cities River Bandits with a 7-4 final on Thursday night in front of 11,304 fans at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
Kevin Encarnacion drew a walk to start the bottom of the first against Quad Cities (48-35, 10-4) starter Juan Minaya (1-2). Encarnacion scooted up a base when Albert Almora was hit by a pitch. Dan Vogelbach knocked in both runners as he grounded a double over the third base bag and down the left field line to give the Cougars (33-47, 3-11) a 2-0 cushion. Vogelbach scored on an infield hit off the bat of Marco Hernandez.
Quad Cities placed a run in the top of the second when Felix Pena experienced some wildness. Pena coughed up a leadoff single to Jesse Wierzbicki, who ended up scoring after three bases on balls were issued by Pena, putting the River Bandits on the board. It was Jobduan Morales that drew the free pass with the bags full.
Mitchell Lambson replaced Minaya in the fourth frame, and the Cougars were able to add a couple tallies. Encarnacion singled while Almora hit by another delivery. Vogelbach knocked home Encarnacion with a solid single to right. Jeimer Candelario punched a base hit to left to bring in Almora, giving the Cougars a 5-1 advantage.
Pena fell an out shy of working the requisite five innings for the victory, but Nathan Dorris (3-3) helped Pena get through the fifth and tossed a perfect sixth. Gioskar Amaya cracked a home run in the bottom of the eighth while Reggie Golden also doubled and scored against Jamaine Cotton. Dillon Maples (S, 1) posted three innings of relief to finish the contest. He retired the first seven he faced before allowing a couple runs in the ninth.
The Cougars and River Bandits play the second of their five-game set on Friday night with a 6:30 start from Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. Left-hander Brian Smith (2-3) starts for the Cougars against righty Jordan Jankowski (3-1). For tickets, please call (630) 232-8811 or visit www.kccougars.com.