Sandoval edges Bandits closer to title

Astros left-hander twirls six scoreless innings for 2-0 Finals lead

Patrick Sandoval is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in 12 2/3 innings across two playoff starts this year. (Rich Guill/Quad Cities River Bandits)

By Curt Rallo / Special to | September 15, 2017 12:18 AM ET

FORT WAYNE, Indiana -- When the Class A TinCaps' Gabriel Arias beat out a grounder to third base for an infield hit, River Bandits starter Patrick Sandoval punched the air in anger.

After that brief flare of emotion, Sandoval stepped back onto the mound at Parkview Field and went back to dominating Fort Wayne.

The Houston southpaw scattered six hits and a walk with two strikeouts over six scoreless innings, setting the stage for a 5-0 victory by the Quad Cities on Thursday in Game 2 of the Midwest League Championship Series.

Box score

"Early on, I couldn't really get the curveball over for strikes, but as the game went on, my catcher, Chuckie Robinson, helped me out a lot, getting me locked in," Sandoval said. "He got the pitches where they needed to be. We kept them off balance with off-speed and put the fastballs where they needed to be, so they got themselves out."

The 2015 11th-round pick's fastball stayed in the 88- to 91-mph range. In the fourth inning, Sandoval's curve was the key amidst retiring 11 of the first 13 batters he faced. Two of the first four hits allowed were infield hits.

MiLB include

"One of the things that makes Patrick special is he's able to mix in his curve at any time," River Bandits manager Russ Steinhorn said. "He can keep the other team off balance. He's got a good changeup as well. When he's locating three pitches for strikes and he's throwing them at any time in the count, he's going to have success."

Sandoval also shined in his previous start, allowing two earned run over 6 2/3 innings against Peoria. The California native stands 2-2 with a 3.83 ERA with the River Bandits. He sports a 5-10 record in his Minor League career with a 4.79 ERA, but finished this year's campaign on a strong note.

"Patrick Sandoval is pitching to the investment that the Astros made in him," Steinhorn said. "He's an under-the-radar guy. We've had some high-end young prospects who have flown through the system. It really was a great job by our scouting department and player development staff to take an 11th-rounder and develop him. It's exciting to see him grow. I've been around him for a couple of seasons now. To see him come in and see him continually get better and see him where he is today is very encouraging."

Confidence has been the biggest difference for Sandoval. He worked on mental strength with coordinator Jesse Michel in the offseason and that proved critical to his progress this season.

"Last year, I didn't progress as well as I should have," Sandoval said. "I took that into the offseason. I knew I had to step it up a lot. It was just confidence. He helped me get my mind right, helped me get confidence and helped me slow the game down. That has been big for me this year."

Complete playoff coverage

Colin Moran, on rehab assignment from Houston, had two hits and is 12-of-29 (.414) with the River Bandits.

Arias led Fort Wayne with two doubles and a triple.

Quad Cities took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 series, which will wrap up on the River Bandits' home turf. Game 3 is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. ET on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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