BURLINGTON, Iowa - Quad Cities River Bandits right-handers Mark Appel, Jamaine Cotton and Patrick Christensen combined to allow one run on four hits to the Burlington Bees, and Rio Ruiz and Roberto Pena each homered in a 5-1 victory that clinched the team a playoff berth Sunday afternoon at Community Field.
Quad Cities (37-24 second half, 75-55 overall) won its fourth straight game to become the first Midwest League team to clinch a second-half playoff berth. The River Bandits will open the postseason Wednesday, Sept. 4, at Modern Woodmen Park against either Cedar Rapids or Beloit - both first-half qualifiers. With a loss by Clinton (31-31, 64-67) Sunday in Beloit, any combination of Quad Cities wins and Clinton losses adding to two will seal a first-round match-up for the River Bandits with Cedar Rapids (42-20, 82-48).
As they did in Saturday's series opener, the River Bandits took a first-inning lead. Second baseman Tony Kemp drew a leadoff walk against left-hander Tyler DeLoach (5-5), and shortstop Carlos Correa drilled an RBI double over right fielder Julio Concepcion.
Appel (3-1) allowed the Bees' only run in the bottom of the first inning, as shortstop Angel Rosa singled off the glove of first baseman Bobby Borchering and scored on Bees first baseman Wade Hinkle's two-out double to left field. Appel worked around a pair of second-inning walks by getting a ground-ball double play and responded to lone baserunners each of the next three innings with inning-ending strikeouts. He finished five innings for the third time this season while allowing four hits and three walks with three strikeouts.
The score remained 1-1 until one out in the top of the fourth inning, when Ruiz lifted a fly ball over the left-center field fence for his 11th home run and a 2-1 lead. Two batters later, Pena hit his fifth home run over the left-field fence to make it 3-1. Quad Cities extended the lead in the fifth inning, as center fielder Teoscar Hernandez hit a one-out single and went to third base on a two-out single by left fielder Danry Vasquez. When Rosa tried to catch Vasquez rounding first base, the ball got away, allowing Hernandez to score. Borchering then greeted right-hander Andres Perez with a popup that dropped between the pitcher's mound and home plate, allowing Vasquez to score.
The Bees were hitless following a fifth-inning leadoff single by catcher Sandy Martinez. Cotton started the sixth with a 5-1 lead and set down the first six batters he faced. An eighth-inning leadoff walk was all that kept him from three perfect innings. Christensen struck out the first and last batters in a 1-2-3 ninth inning to seal Quad Cities' first playoff berth since 2011 - the year of the franchise's fifth Midwest League Championship. The River Bandits have made the playoffs four of seven seasons as a Houston Astros affiliate.
Sunday's victory also means The Captain's Table at 4801 River Drive in Moline will offer The Captain's Table Victory Discount Monday, Aug. 26. 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 Monday, Aug. 26. Quad Cities continues its series in Burlington at 6:30 p.m. Monday. River Bandits left-hander Josh Hader (2-0) will start against Bees left-hander Ryan Crowley (5-4).
UP NEXT: The River Bandits' final homestand of the regular season kicks off Saturday, Aug. 31, with a Dallas Clark Bobblehead Giveaway presented by Barrel House 211 and CBS4 when gates open at 5:30 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game. Fireworks will also follow the game. 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!