GENEVA, Ill. - Quad Cities River Bandits right-hander Daniel Mengden pitched a career-high six innings and combined with right-handers Keegan Yuhl and Ryan Thompson for a six-hit shutout, while third baseman Nick Tanielu had a team-high three hits in a 4-0 win over the Kane County Cougars at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark and seventh straight Quad Cities victory Tuesday afternoon.
With their longest winning streak since winning seven in a row July 28-Aug. 3, 2013, the River Bandits (20-6) led the Western Division by 5 ½ games entering Tuesday night's games. In its last eight games, the Quad Cities pitching staff has pitched two shutouts and allowed a total of eight runs - five earned - in 74 innings, for a 0.61 ERA in that span. The team has also not walked an opposing batter in the last 20 innings and leads the Midwest League this season with a 2.09 ERA and 1.09 walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP).
With Tuesday's shutout, the River Bandits have kept Kane County (11-15) scoreless for the last 15 innings. Mengden (2-1) also extended a personal 15-inning scoreless streak that covers his last three outings. On Tuesday, he retired the first nine Kane County batters, including three on strikeouts, and finished with five hits and no walks with four strikeouts in six innings.
Facing Quad Cities for the second time this season, Cougars right-hander Brent Jones (1-3) kept the game scoreless for three innings. In the top of the fourth inning, River Bandits center fielder Derek Fisher led off with a bunt single to the third-base side and went to second base on Tanielu's one-out single to right field. With two outs and runners at first and second bases, left fielder Sean McMullen lined a double down the right-field line to score Fisher and place Tanielu at third base. Designated hitter Jason Martin followed by chopping an infield single behind second base to score Tanielu, but McMullen was thrown out at home plate to end the inning with a 2-0 Quad Cities lead.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Cougars center fielder Colin Bray became the first batter to reach base against Mengden with a bunt single that rolled parallel to the third-base line until it struck third base. Shortstop Ryan Gebhardt then singled to right field. With the tying run at first base, Mengden got second baseman Cody Regis to ground into a double play, and then fielded a ground ball to retire designated hitter Steve McQuail. In the fifth inning, Cougars catcher Stryker Trahan and third baseman Joe Munoz each singled with two outs before right fielder Victor Reyes popped out. In the sixth inning, Regis hit a two-out double before McQuail flied out to end the inning.
Jones kept the score at 2-0 through six innings, in which he allowed eight hits and three walks with three strikeouts. In the fifth, shortstop Kristian Trompiz singled and went to second base on a sacrifice by right fielder Bobby Boyd. The game paused as home plate umpire J.C. Velez-Morales, struck in the head by a foul bunted ball during Boyd's at bat, left the field for treatment, and base umpire Andrew Chesnut took over home plate and solo umpiring duties. Trompiz advanced to third base on a passed ball but was thrown out at home on a fielder's choice. In the sixth, Tanielu's single and walks to McMullen and Martin loaded the bases before Trompiz flied out to end the inning.
In the seventh inning, Cougars left-hander Steve Hathaway walked Boyd, and catcher Jamie Ritchie reached on Gebhardt's throwing error that also sent Boyd to third. Second baseman Mott Hyde put a one-out squeeze bunt toward first base to score Boyd and move Ritchie to second base, and Tanielu - who has four straight multi-hit games - hit an RBI single for a 4-0 lead. Hathaway pitched a scoreless eighth inning and right-hander Luis Ramirez worked a scoreless ninth inning, but the Quad Cities bullpen held the Cougars to one base runner, as Yuhl worked two scoreless innings around a Reyes single in the eighth inning, and Thompson pitched a perfect ninth inning.
In Wednesday's 11 a.m. series finale, River Bandits right-hander Joshua James (1-0) is scheduled to face Cougars left-hander Jared Miller (2-1). The River Bandits seek their first eight-game regular season winning streak since they won 10 straight games April 26-May 7, 2002. With eight straight road wins - their longest such streak since nine straight in August 2010 - and a 12-2 record on the road this season, they also seek a third straight road series sweep and their first series sweep in Kane County since a four-game opening series April 4-7, 2013.
UP NEXT: The River Bandits will give away five new Mini Rita Grills next Thursday on Rita de Mayo presented by Bud Light and 7G Distributing. The amusement rides will open on Total Turf and Landscape Night and a Thirst-Day with $2 drink specials presented by 104.9 The Hawk, ESPN 93.5 and the River Cities' Reader. IHMVCU members can purchase buy-one-get-one free tickets at the box office. Individual tickets are on sale at the River Bandits box office and online at riverbandits.com. Ticket plans of 12 to 70 games - which include free parking, reserved seats, merchandise discounts, and guaranteed giveaways - are available by calling 563-324-3000.
ABOUT THE BANDITS: The River Bandits ownership in 2014 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, Space Camp opened June 20; the new Drop'N Twist debuted in July; and the newly expanded 300-foot long zip line also reopened.