SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Quad Cities River Bandits left-hander Joe Bircher, right-hander Jamaine Cotton, and left-hander J.D. Osborne combined for the team's first shutout of the postseason in a 5-0 win over the South Bend Silver Hawks at Four Winds Field at Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium in Game 2 of the Midwest League Championship Series Thursday night.
Quad Cities took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five matchup and will play any and all remaining games at home at Modern Woodmen Park. The River Bandits' first chance to win their second title in three seasons is Game 3 at 7 p.m. Saturday. Left-hander Josh Hader (2-0 regular season, 1-0 postseason) is scheduled to face Silver Hawks right-hander Aaron Blair (0-2 regular season, 2-0 postseason).
The River Bandits scored their first run with one out in the second inning, when first baseman and former Silver Hawk Bobby Borchering crushed a pitch from right-hander Blake Perry (0-1) off the scoreboard in right-center field for his first postseason home run. In the bottom of the second, Silver Hawks first baseman Rudy Flores and second baseman Fidel Pena hit consecutive singles off Bircher (1-0), and Flores went to third base on a flyout by catcher Roidany Aguila. Right fielder Mike Lang tried a squeeze bunt up the first-base line, but Borchering threw to catcher Roberto Pena, who hung on to the ball for the tag despite being knocked on his back side by Flores.
Perry struggled with command in the fourth inning, as he issued a one-out walk to left fielder Danry Vasquez and in the course of an 11-pitch battle with Borchering, threw three wild pitches - the last coming on ball four to put Borchering at first and bring home Vasquez. Third baseman Rio Ruiz followed with a double to the right-center field gap that scored Borchering and chased Perry. After Ruiz stole third base and Pena walked against right-hander Jesse Darrah, right fielder Jordan Scott pushed a bunt toward first that scored Ruiz.
With a 4-0 lead, Bricher allowed two walks and a hit in the fourth inning to load the bases. Designated hitter Michael Perez then hit a fly ball to shallow right-center field, and Scott made the catch before firing toward home plate, where Pena tagged out Flores for the second time in three innings to complete the inning-ending double play. In the fifth, Bircher allowed consecutive one-out singles before getting a flyout and strikeout to finish five innings, having allowed six hits and two walks with two strikeouts.
In the top of the sixth, Ruiz hit a two-out double, and Pena delivered the game's only hit with a runner in scoring position - an RBI single that scored Ruiz for a 5-0 lead. Right-hander Jamaine Cotton started the bottom of the sixth and retired all nine batters he faced, including six straight strikeouts in the seventh and eighth, to work three perfect innings. Left-hander J.D. Osborne started the bottom of the ninth and hit Lang with a pitch with two outs - ending a string of 13 consecutive batters retired by Quad Cities pitchers. He got Perez to ground out to first base, ending Quad Cities first playoff shutout since Sept. 10, 2011, in Game 1 of the divisional final against Kane County.
Thursday's victory means The Captain's Table at 4801 River Drive in Moline will offer The Captain's Table Victory Discount on Saturday, Sept. 14. 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 Saturday, Sept. 14.
UP NEXT: The River Bandits will give away nine DVD players - one for each inning - and nine baseball-themed movies courtesy of American TV & Appliance in Davenport at the first Championship Series home game at 7 p.m. Saturday. Fireworks will follow the game, and 12-ounce beer and soda, as well as hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn and nachos are $1 each. All regular individual tickets are $5 each 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 Championship Series 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.