DAVENPORT, IOWA ---
The South Bend Silver Hawks' 2013 season ended Saturday night with a 4-2 loss to the Quad Cities River Bandits. The season which began on a 56 degree night on April 4 in South Bend, Indiana, was over Saturday night, five and a half months later in Davenport, Iowa, where the game time temperature was 72 degrees. The Silver Hawks' offense in this last game, and most of the Midwest League Championship Series, was more reminiscent of a cold spring night than the warm late summer evening on the banks of the Mississippi River that brought their season to a close.
Things got off to a rough start for the Silver Hawks in the Game Three. River Bandits second baseman Tony Kemp led off the bottom of the first inning with a left-field single off of Hawks starter Aaron Blair. Kemp was followed to the plate by centerfielder Teoscar Hernandez. Hernandez laid down a sacrifice bunt that was fielded by Blair. Blair's throw was off the mark, allowing Kemp to score and Hernandez to go all the way to third base. After shortstop Carlos Correa grounded out to third base, left fielder Danry Vasquez sent a ball to left field, scoring Hernandez. Vasquez was thrown out on the play attempting to stretch his single into a double.
The bottom of the second inning didn't start much better for the Hawks. Quad Cities third baseman Rio Ruiz took the first pitch of the inning over the left field fence for a solo home run, his third of the 2013 playoffs. Blair got Catcher Roberto Pena to ground out to the shortstop, but then gave up a hit to right fielder Jordan Scott. After Brian Blasik, the DH, flew out to right, Kemp followed up with a double to right field that scored Scott to put the Bandits ahead 4-0.
Blair settled down in the third, fourth and fifth innings, striking out six of the ten batters he faced. After four and two-thirds innings, Blair was lifted in favor of Enrique Garcia, who struck out Vasquez to end the fifth.
The Silver Hawks couldn't put much offense together against River Bandits starter Josh Hader. South Bend, the Class-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, scattered three hits over the first eight innings. First baseman Rudy Flores, third baseman Brandon Drury and left fielder Chuck Taylor each collected singles.
In Hader's seven innings he struck out eight and walked only one in addition to the three Hawks' hits. Michael Lambson pitched the eighth inning for Quad Cities, walking one and striking out two.
For their part, the Silver Hawks pitchers neutralized Quad Cities after the second inning. Garcia pitched one inning, walking two and striking out two, with a wild pitch. Geordy Parra threw an inning and a third with two strike outs. Daniel Gibson handled the last inning and one third for the Hawks, walking one and striking out one.
Altogether the Quad Cities River Bandits, the Class-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, held the Hawks scoreless in 25 of 27 innings in the Championship Series. After the fourth inning of Game 1, the Hawks did not put a run on the board again until the last frame of the final game.
The Silver Hawks final charge of the season came in the top of the ninth inning. After South Bend center fielder Socrates Brito struck out swinging, the Hawks last minute rally began. Drury poked a single up the middle to get things started. Flores came to the plate and sent a bomb just inside the right field foul pole toward the Mississippi River for a two-run home run. Second baseman Fidel Pena managed to work a walk out of River Bandits closer Andrew Walter. After DH Roidany Aguila popped up in foul territory to the catcher, centerfielder Mike Lang flew out to centerfield to end the game and the season.
This is the sixth championship for the Quad Cities franchise, a member of the Midwest League since 1960.
During the regular season the Silver Hawks put together a record of 81-58, including 41 wins at home. South Bend won the Eastern Division First Half Championship, and the 2013 Eastern Division Title. Their playoff record was 4-4.
In 2013 South Bend's home attendance was 237,448. The Silver Hawks thank each and every one of their fans for making 2013 a successful season! Keep track of off-season news and information for the 2014 season at www.silverhawks.com .