The Quad Cities River Bandits erased an early five-run deficit, but couldn't come back a second time as they dropped a 9-5 decision to the West Michigan Whitecaps at Fifth Third Ballpark. The loss was the fifth in a row for the Bandits.
West Michigan (8-11, 29-59) raced ahead in the early innings against River Bandits starter Jonathan Bermudez. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning, Dayton Dugas hit his first home run in the Midwest League, a grand slam over the wall in the left field corner to stake West Michigan to a 4-0 lead. The margin grew to 5-0 in the second when Andre Lipcius doubled home Zach Malis after his high pop up dropped on the infield to open the frame.
Quad Cities (11-8, 53-31) would bounce back in a big way to tie the game in the middle innings. Austin Dennis put the River Bandits on the board in the third inning with an RBI single into right center. He also sparked the Bandits attack in the fifth inning with another run-scoring base knock that closed the gap to 5-2. A double off the bat of Freudis Nova caused the Whitecaps to go to the pen with two in scoring position. Grae Kessinger greeted reliever Sandel De La Cruz with a ground-rule double to dead center and suddenly it was a 5-4 game. Oscar Campos also hammered an RBI double that one-hopped off of the wall in left field to even the score 5-5.
Defensive miscues let the Bandits down in the decisive bottom of the sixth inning as West Michigan pulled away. Reliever Hansel Paulino surrendered a base hit to Nick Quintana and a run-scoring double to Dugas in his first two batters faced, allowing the Whitecaps to jump in front 6-5. Later in the same frame, Sam McMillan chopped a groundball to third with the bases loaded. Kessinger fielded it and fired to the plate, but his throw caused Cesar Salazar to pull his foot off the plate and another run scored on the throwing error. In the next at bat, Lipcius bounced a ball toward short that skipped off of Nova and into center field, scoring two more and giving West Michigan a 9-5 lead.
Both teams finished with double-digit hits in the contest. Dugas tallied two hits and drove in five runs to lead all hitters. Bojarski and Perez also added two hits each for the Whitecaps. The River Bandits were led by Trey Dawson who went 3-4 with two runs scored. Dennis and Kessinger chipped in with two hits each.
Paulino took the loss, giving up four runs, two earned, in 0.2 innings. Riley Cabral tossed 2.1 scoreless innings as the last man in relief. He struck out four and allowed just one hit.
The two clubs will meet once again on Thursday night with a 6:05 p.m. first pitch. RHP Brett Daniels (3-4, 1.79) will toe the rubber for the River Bandits in game two of the series. West Michigan will call on RHP Robbie Welhaf (2-3, 2.45).
All River Bandits games are broadcast on 1170 K-BOB and TuneIn Radio. Home games are also available with video on MiLB.TV.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.