The Quad Cities River Bandits' dominant postseason pitching continued for a third straight game, as left-hander Josh Hader allowed one run on three hits in a career-high seven innings Saturday night, and the bullpen finished a 3-1 win over the Beloit Snappers in Game 1 of the Midwest League Western Division final in front of 1,760 at Modern Woodmen Park.
Quad Cities took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series and can advance to the Midwest League Championship with a victory Sunday or Monday in Beloit, where Quad Cities went 5-2 as the visiting team this season. Dating back to the 2011 playoffs, the River Bandits have won 10 straight postseason games. Quad Cities has won 16 of 19 games overall and allowed only four hits for a third straight game.
Hader (1-0), who had starts of 6 1/3 and 6 2/3 innings with Delmarva in the South Atlantic League and twice worked six innings in the regular season for Quad Cities, faced one batter over the minimum Saturday. He allowed a first-inning leadoff single by left fielder Aaron Shipman, who was thrown out trying to steal second base. After a walk to designated hitter Ryan Mathews, Hader induced one of his team's two double plays. Hader had set down eight straight batters before Mathews hit a home run to left field with one out in the fourth inning. Hader then faced the minimum the rest of his outing, allowing only a fifth-inning leadoff single by right fielder John Wooten, who was retired as part of a double play. After allowing two earned runs on two hits and six walks with four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings against Beloit last Sunday, Hader walked one and struck out one batter Saturday.
The River Bandits beat their opponent to the scoreboard for the first time in the playoffs. In the first inning, center fielder Teoscar Hernandez hit a one-hopper to shortstop Sam Roberts, who bobbled the ball and threw it into the first-base dugout to allow Hernandez to reach second base. Shortstop Carlos Correa dropped a single in front of left fielder Aaron Shipman to score Hernandez for a 1-0 lead.
In the third inning against right-hander Andres Avila (0-1), designated hitter Brian Blasik hit a leadoff single to left-center field, and second baseman Tony Kemp singled to right field. With one out, Correa drove a sacrifice fly to center field to score Blasik and make it 2-0. Avila left after 4 2/3 innings, having allowed six hits and two runs - one earned. Right-hander Vincent Voiro walked third baseman Rio Ruiz with one out in the sixth inning, and right fielder Jordan Scott drove an RBI double to left-center field for a 3-1 lead.
After Hader, left-hander Mitchell Lambson pitched a perfect eighth inning with one strikeout. For a third straight playoff game, right-hander Andrew Walter pitched the final inning. He allowed a two-out single by Shipman but earned his second postseason save by striking out Mathews to end the game with Shipman at first base - the only runner Beloit left on base. The two-hour, 10-minute game was shorter than any nine-inning regular season game for Quad Cities this season.
Saturday's River Bandits victory also means The Captain's Table at 4801 River Drive in Moline will offer The Captain's Table Victory Discount Sunday, Sept. 8. 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 Sunday, Sept. 8. Quad Cities will travel to Beloit for Game 2 at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. River Bandits right-hander Zach Morton (0-1) is scheduled to face Snappers right-hander Kyle Finnegan (1-1).
UP NEXT: Follow the River Bandits' playoff run at www.riverbandits.com by listening to the live broadcast presented by Mediacom. You can also listen to every game using the TuneIn Radio app on your smartphone. 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, and a number of new bounce houses. The team's major league affiliate, the Houston Astros, just saw all six of its affiliates reach the playoffs - the first time in a decade any MLB team can claim such success. The playoffs will likely be the last chance for Quad Cities fans to see 2012 No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa and many other future stars in a River Bandits uniform.