The Quad Cities River Bandits built a solid lead in the middle innings and then hung on late to hold off the Cedar Rapids Kernels 5-4 on Sunday evening at Modern Woodmen Park. Cedar Rapids put the tying run in scoring position in each of the last two innings.
Quad Cities (31-24, 74-47) finally broke through against Cedar Rapids starting pitcher Andrew Cabezas in the second inning. The right-hander had held the Bandits without a run for the first 17.0 innings he worked against them this season. Oscar Campos and C.J. Stubbs lined back-to-back singles to open the inning and then Austin Dennis worked a walk to load the bases with no outs. Alex Holderbach hit a hard bouncer to first baseman Gabe Snyder that allowed the runner from third to score and gave the Bandits a 1-0 lead. A strikeout and groundout followed to close the inning without further damage.
The River Bandits gained some separation in the fifth inning. With two outs, Wilyer Abreu opened the attack with a single and was joined on base by Grae Kessinger who worked a free pass off of Cabezas. Campos doubled the lead with a groundball single into right field and then Stubbs hammered a double into the gap in left center to open a 4-0 margin.
Holderbach led off the sixth inning with his sixth home run of the season to widen the gap to 5-0. Cabezas ended up taking the loss after allowing four runs on six hits and three walks in 4.2 innings. Holderbach's round-tripper came off of reliever Nat Hadley.
Brett Daniels opened his night with 6.0 scoreless innings before running into some trouble in the seventh. Cedar Rapids (31-24, 70-55) got on the board with a two-run double by DaShawn Keirsey Jr. that followed a walk and a double from the two previous batters. Daniels would depart after 7.0 innings, having allowed two runs on three hits while fanning nine.
Jacob Billingsley made his Midwest League debut in the eighth inning. Gilberto Celestino came to the plate with a man in scoring position and singled him home with a line drive into center field that cut the Bandits lead to 5-3. Snyder doubled to left and Wander Javier walked to load the bases with two down. Billingsley issued another walk to Keirsey Jr. to force in a run and make it a 5-4 game before striking out Albee Weiss to end the inning.
In the final inning, Billingsley struck out the first two hitters before walking Spencer Steer to extend the game. Lamonte Wade Jr., on a Major League rehab assignment, poked a base hit into left field to push the tying run into scoring position and force another call to the bullpen. Manager Ray Hernandez went to Luis De Paula to try and finish the game and the right-hander responded by inducing a tapper back to the mound off the bat of Celestino to end the game. De Paula earned his first save.
Both clubs finished the game with seven hits. Campos, Stubbs and Holderbach provided two each for the River Bandits. Stubbs and Holderbach also drove in two. Keirsey Jr. went 2-3 with three runs batted in to lead the Kernels.
Game three of the series will take place on Monday night at 6:35 p.m. The River Bandits will wear special uniforms on Disabilities Awareness Night that will be auctioned off after the game with proceeds benefitting Scott County Special Olympics. Fans can also ride the Ferris wheel free of charge. LHP Jonathan Bermudez (4-1, 4.25) will start on the mound for the Bandits in a meeting with Cedar Rapids RHP Josh Winder (6-2,2.81).
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.