DAVENPORT, IOWA - Josh Rojas singled home the game-winning run in the 10th inning for Quad Cities in a 5-4 walk-off win for the River Bandits in Game 1 of the Midwest League Western Division Championship Series. Cedar Rapids led 4-0 going into the 7th inning, but Quad Cities came back to take a 1-0 lead in the best of three series.
The series now shifts to Cedar Rapids for Game 2 on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. The Kernels must defeat the River Bandits to extend their season and force a Game 3 on Monday in Cedar Rapids.
Colin Moran walked to begin the 10th inning for Quad Cities. He was lifted for pinch-runner Luis Payano, who moved to second on Chuckie Robinson's sacrifice bunt. Abraham Toro was intentionally walked to set up a potential double play. Josh Rojas then singled to right field off Kernels reliever Ryan Mason. Payano got his foot in just before the tag of Kernels catcher Ben Rortvedt after a tremendous throw by right fielder Jimmy Kerrigan. Mason (0-1) recorded one out in the 10th, walking two in the loss.
Cedar Rapids had a chance to take the lead in the ninth inning. The Kernels loaded the bases with one out, but Jesus Balaguer struck out both Rortvedt and Ariel Montesino as the Kernels left three on base. Balaguer (1-0) went 1 2/3 innings, allowing no runs on two hits while striking out three in the win.
The Kernels took a 4-0 lead in the second inning. Lewin Diaz led off with a double to left, the fourth two-bagger in the postseason for the league's double leader. A pair of walks to Caleb Hamilton and Kerrigan loaded the bases for Rortvedt. Rortvedt chopped a 2-run single over first baseman J.J. Matijevic, scoring both Diaz and Hamilton. Kerrigan later scored on a wild pitch by River Bandits starter Carlos Sanabria. Ariel Montesino then lined a single to right. Quad Cities right fielder Rojas booted the ball, allowing Rortvedt to score and give the Kernels a four-run lead.
Kernels starter Tyler Watson sailed through six scoreless innings, allowing just two singles and a double. However, the River Bandits started the comeback in the seventh inning.
Quad Cities used a four-run seventh inning to tie the game 4-4, scoring all runs with two outs. With Rojas at first base after a walk and two outs, the River Bandits collected four straight singles. Ray Henderson singled to left, and Kristian Trompiz reached on an infield single to load the bases. Bryan De La Cruz's two-run single to left-center got the River Bandits on the board. It scored both Rojas and Henderson, cutting the Kernels lead in half. Chas McCormick then followed with a RBI single to center, plating Trompiz and making the score 4-3. Moran then roped a ball behind second base. Shortstop Royce Lewis didn't field the ball cleanly while playing in the shift, and Moran legged out the throw at first base. The error allowed De La Cruz to score on the play and tie the game.
Watson went 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits. He struck out seven and walked one in the no-decision. Logan Lombana went 1/3 inning and was charged with a blown save after relieving Watson in the seventh inning. Bryan Sammons retired two in the eighth inning, allowing one hit and no runs. Max Cordy retired all four batters he faced in relief, striking out two.
Sanabria lasted just 1 2/3 innings for the River Bandits, allowing four runs (three earned) on three hits. He struck out three and walked two. Yohan Ramirez halted the early offense of the Kernels and pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings in relief. He struck out six, walked none and allowed just two hits. Devon Carr walked two and struck out two, allowing no runs over 1 1/3 innings out of the bullpen.
The Kernels face a must-win situation in Game 2 on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium. If the Kernels win tomorrow, Game 3 will also be played in Cedar Rapids at 6:35 p.m. on Monday.
LHP Charlie Barnes (2-1, 3.86) starts for the Kernels while RHP Ronel Blanco (6-4, 3.30) pitches for the River Bandits.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.kernels.com. Fans can purchase tickets at the Kernels Ticket Office or by calling 319-896-7560. The Kernels Ticket Office will be open at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday morning.
Fans can listen to the play-by-play action on 1450 KMRY AM and 93.1 KMRY FM, as well as online at www.kernels.com and www.kmryradio.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.