Quad Cities River Bandits right-hander Vincent Velasquez struck out seven batters in six shutout innings, while first baseman Bobby Borchering and third baseman Rio Ruiz each had two of the team's five total hits in a 2-1 win over the Clinton LumberKings in front of 4,767 at Modern Woodmen Park Thursday night.
For a third straight start, Velasquez (9-4) pitched at least six innings, struck out seven batters and earned the win. In his last 19 innings, he has allowed nine hits, five walks and one run. He allowed four hits and two walks Thursday, while raising his league-best strikeout total to 123. The victory kept Quad Cities (28-17 second half, 66-48 overall) one-half game out first place in the Western Division.
With the game scoreless in the bottom of the second inning, Borchering hit the first pitch he saw from right-hander Rigoberto Garcia (0-4) down the first-base line for a double. Ruiz followed with a double to right-center field that scored Borchering. But Garcia then retired 17 of the next 22 batters, allowing just two more hits and three walks. He completed seven innings for the first time with Clinton, allowed just four hits and two walks, and struck out four batters.
Velasquez followed two-out doubles in the second and third innings with strikeouts, and he got an inning-ending fielder's choice after a two-out single in the fourth. In the sixth, he faced his deepest trouble, as LumberKings designated hitter Dario Pizzano doubled with one out, and catcher Marcus Littlewood walked. But Velasquez fanned the next two batters to strike out the side and preserve the 1-0 lead.
Following Velasquez, right-hander Zach Morton made his Midwest League debut by allowing leadoff singles by right fielder Gaby Guerrero and left fielder Alfredo Morales in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. In the seventh, he got a strikeout and two groundouts. In the eighth, he induced a double play and flyout to end the threat. Clinton (22-24, 55-60) left a runner at second base four times in the first eight innings without moving a single one to third.
In the bottom of the eighth, River Bandits second baseman Tony Kemp walked against right-hander Mark Bordonaro, went to second on a flyout, to third on a groundout and scored on Borchering's two-out single up the middle. With a 2-0 lead, right-hander Juan Minaya started the ninth inning by allowing a home run by third baseman D.J. Peterson before retiring the next three batters for his eighth save.
Thursday's victory also means The Captain's Table at 4801 River Drive in Moline will offer The Captain's Table Victory Discount on Friday, Aug. 9. Anyone who mentions the River Bandits victory can receive a free appetizer or dessert with the purchase of two lunches or dinners with beverages on Friday, Aug. 9.
The River Bandits will play the rubber match of the three-game series Friday at 7 p.m. against the Clinton LumberKings. River Bandits right-hander Chris Devenski (1-2) will face LumberKings left-hander Scott DeCecco (9-7).
UP NEXT: Modern Woodmen Park is a nominee for the "Best Minor League Ballpark" in the 2013 10Best Readers' Choice Awards, and fans can vote once per day at 10Best.com until the winner is announced Aug. 14. The River Bandits' next home game is Friday night, when the team will wear special photo jerseys to support the Quad Cities Autism Center on Autism Awareness Night. Single-game tickets are on sale at the River Bandits box office at Modern Woodmen Park, by phone at 563-324-3000 and online at www.riverbandits.com. Season ticket and mini-plan packages start at just seven games and begin at less than $50. Call a River Bandits account representative today to choose your seats and get the details of our various mini-plan packages.
ABOUT THE BANDITS: The River Bandits ownership is making one of the biggest improvements to Modern Woodmen Park since the ballpark was first built back in 1931! A new Ferris wheel, standing 112 feet over the playing field, is planned for next spring, along with a carousel and other new games and attractions. This season, the team just unveiled a new 300-foot long dual zip line, a rock climbing wall, a Mediacom Frog Hopper, and a number of new bounce houses . The team also boasts a new major league affiliate, the Houston Astros, and fans can see the first team in Minor League Baseball history with back-to-back No. 1 overall draft picks - 2012 top pick Carlos Correa and 2013 top pick Mark Appel, as well as 2012 first-round draft choice Lance McCullers. With new rides, new attractions, new improvements, a new affiliate and future major league stars, the second half of this season is one every fan will not want to miss!