CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Quad Cities River Bandits scored three runs in the top of the ninth, putting the tying and lead runs on-base before ultimately succumbing Wednesday to the Cedar Rapids Kernels 5-4 at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Cedar Rapids led 5-1 going to the top of the ninth with Hudson Boyd on the mound for his second inning of relief. Boyd gave up a leadoff single to Chase McDonald, who went 2-for-4, walked Ronnie Mitchell and then plunked Tyler White with a fastball to load the bases. However, after falling behind 3-1 in the count on Jon Kemmer, he struck out the Bandits left fielder before getting Brett Booth to fly to shallow left, holding the runners at their stations. Austin Elkins was able to chop a single to right field to score McDonald and Mitchell while putting the tying run on base. After Brett Phillips singled home White to make the score 5-4 and put the lead run on first, Cedar Rapids turned to Todd Van Steensel, who got Chan-Jong Moon to fly out to left to end the ballgame for his sixth save.
The Kernels were able to extend a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning off of Quad Cities reliever Edison Frias. Engelb Vielma and Tanner Vavra each singled to lead off the frame and scored when Chad Christensen pelted a two-run triple to left-center. Mitch Garver, who was 3-for-4 in extending his team-best on-base streak to 20 games, singled to bring in Christensen and make the score 5-1.
Frias came into the game for starter Evan Grills after five innings. Grills (2-2) gave up two runs, one earned, on eight hits in his five frames, scattering eight hits thanks to six strikeouts and no walks.
The two teams began trading runs in the bottom of the first, when Christensen, who finished 1-for-4 with three RBIs, hit a fielder's choice to score a run and give Cedar Rapids the initial 1-0 lead. However, in the top of the second, McDonald, Mitchell and White each singled consecutively, with the latter plating McDonald to tie the game at one. But Jason Kanzler's home run off of Grills to lead off the last of the second gave the Kernels a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish.
Brandon Bixler (4-3) earned the win with three perfect innings in relief of Cedar Rapids starter Fernando Romero, who gave up a run on five hits with two walks and a strikeout in four innings.
The loss dropped Quad Cities to 34-31 and into a three-way tie with Peoria and Wisconsin for third place in the Western Division, a game behind Burlington with four games to play in the first half of the season. Cedar Rapids improved to 28-37 and will start Ryan Eades (3-7, 7.07 ERA) tomorrow against Quad Cities' Adrian Houser (4-1, 3.91) in the rubber game of their thre-game series.
UP NEXT: The annual Father's Day Cookout at Modern Woodmen Park is open for reservations until Wednesday, June 11. The package includes a game ticket and all-you-can-eat menu in the Budweiser Champions Club Sunday, June 15. 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 is making 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, to be followed by a new ride called a "Drop and Twist," an expanded 300-foot long zip line, and many other new games and attractions. 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.