PEORIA, Ill. - Edison Frias struck out five in five innings of work, Evan Grills came out of the bullpen to earn his first career save and the Quad Cities River Bandits used a three-run sixth to propel by the Peoria Chiefs 4-3 Friday at Dozer Park.
Peoria led 2-0 with starter Chase Brookshire on the mound to start of the sixth. Brookshire yielded a leadoff double down the right field line to Jon Kemmer, who was 3-for-5. Chase McDonald then followed with a shallow fly ball to right field. Peoria right fielder Vaughn Bryan was shifted way into the gap in right-center and couldn't reach the ball with a dive, having the ball scoot by him, allowing Kemmer to score and McDonald to go into second with an RBI double. Peoria called on reliever Robert Stock to come into the game, but Ronnie Mitchell, who also finished 3-for-5 with a stolen base, greeted the right-hander with a single to right. Bryan's throw to the plate to try to nab McDonald was way up the third base line, which allowed the run to score tie the game. The ball rolled into the River Bandits' dugout, and Mitchell was awarded third after his RBI single. Against a drawn-in infield, Tyler White then lofted a soft liner over the head of Peoria third baseman Michael Schulze to bring home Mitchell and give Quad Cities a 3-2 lead. The River Bandits would send eight men to the plate, collecting five hits in their three-run inning.
Grills then came on for Frias (5-3), who allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits with five strikeouts and no walks in his five frames. Grills worked a 1-2-3 sixth, combining with the Quad Cities starter to retire 10 Chiefs in a row and 13 of 14.
The River Bandits were able to secure an important insurance run in the top of the ninth. Peoria reliever Brandon Lee walked Marc Wik to leadoff the inning before fanning James Ramsay, who was 2-for-4 with two doubles and a stolen base. Thomas Lindauer then singled to put runners on first and second. The Chiefs turned to left-hander Steven Sabatino, who got Kemmer to foul out for the second out of the inning. But McDonald then delivered a single right up the middle to bring home Wik and give Quad Cities a 4-2 advantage.
In the bottom of the ninth, Grills plunked C.J. McElroy, Jr. with a fastball to start off the frame. He got Justin Ringo to strike out but then Carson Kelly singled to put runners on the corners with one out. A 6-4 fielder's choice off the bat of Luis Perez scored McElroy, Jr. to get the Chiefs within one. But then Grills fanned Mason Katz to earn his first career save. The southpaw punched out six against a run on two hits in four innings out of the bullpen.
Stock (0-1) suffered a blown save and the loss, giving up a run on three hits with a walk in two innings of relief.
The Quad Cities win pushed the Bandits to 4-3 in the second half and 38-36 overall while snapping Peoria's five-game winning streak and six-game home winning streak. The River Bandits will start Adrian Houser (4-2, 3.96 ERA) against Peoria's Blake McKnight (3-6, 4.74) tomorrow in game two of their five-game series.
UP NEXT: Back-to-back fireworks nights kick of the Fourth of July weekend at Modern Woodmen Park. The ballpark will open Thursday, July 3, for the annual Red, White and Boom Fireworks, and the River Bandits will have Fourth of July Fireworks presented by Smart Toyota of the Quad Cities, WLLR and WQAD following the 7 p.m. game on Friday, July 4. Game tickets are available at www.riverbandits.com. To order any of the River Bandits 2014 ticket plans - with new lower prices - call the River Bandits box office at 563-324-3000. Season ticket and mini-plan packages start at just seven games and begin at less than $40. Call a River Bandits account representative today to choose your seats and get the details of our various mini-plan packages.
ABOUT THE BANDITS: Having just been named Ballpark Digest's winner of Best Ballpark Improvement in America under $1 million, the River Bandits ownership recently made one of the biggest improvements to Modern Woodmen Park since the ballpark was first built back in 1931! A new Ferris wheel, standing 105 feet over the playing field, opened May 24, and Space Camp opened June 20. Soon to come is another new ride, this one called a "Drop and Twist." In 2013, the team unveiled a new 220-foot long dual zip line, a rock climbing wall, and a number of new bounce houses. Last season, the team's major league affiliate, the Houston Astros, saw all six of its affiliates reach the playoffs - the first time in a decade any MLB team can claim such success. The River Bandits were one of three affiliates to reach the championship round and one of two to win their league championship.