PEORIA, Ill. - After falling behind the Peoria Chiefs, 5-1, through five innings Saturday night, the Quad Cities River Bandits came back to put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with no outs in the ninth inning, but Chiefs right-hander Zach Loraine retired the next three batters in a 5-4 Chiefs win at Dozer Park.
Peoria (6-2 second half, 43-34 overall) got seven hits, all five runs and all five RBIs from its top three hitters, including three hits apiece from left fielder C.J. McElroy Jr. and first baseman Justin Ringo, who added a home run and three RBIs. Right-hander Blake McKnight (4-6) went six innings to earn his second win in eight days against Quad Cities (4-4, 39-38), which suffered its 15th one-run loss - tied with Bowling Green, Clinton and Wisconsin for most in the Midwest League this season.
The visitors took a first-inning lead against McKnight, as center fielder James Ramsay hit a leadoff double down the first-base line, reached third base on a sacrifice by second baseman Marc Wik and scored on right fielder Brett Phillips' league-leading eighth sacrifice fly.
River Bandits right-hander Adrian Houser (4-3) held the lead until the bottom of the third inning. Chiefs center fielder Vaughn Bryan led off the third inning with a single, and McElroy bounced a game-tying double over first baseman Chase McDonald but advanced to third base when Phillips bobbled the ball in right field. With the infield in, Ringo grounded an RBI single to right field for a 2-1 Chiefs lead.
Houser then retired six batters in a row before hitting Bryan with a one-out pitch in the fifth inning. A wild pitch moved Bryan to second base, and he scored when McElroy lined a double to left-center field. Ringo followed with his fourth home run of the season to right field to make it 5-1. After the home run, only one of the next 12 Chiefs batters reached base against Houser and right-hander Kevin Comer. Houser allowed five earned runs on eight hits in five innings, while Comer pitched three shutout innings in relief.
Meanwhile, Quad Cities began its comeback in the sixth inning, when Phillips drew a one-out walk, and Mitchell singled to center field. When Phillips stumbled around second base, shortstop Richy Pedroza tried to throw him out, but the ball went into right field, allowing Phillips to score and Mitchell to reach third base. Third baseman Tyler White flew out to end the inning, and McKnight finished with two runs - one earned - on his pitching line. Right-hander Chris Perry pitched a perfect seventh inning before allowing Ramsay's eighth-inning leadoff triple and Wik's RBI groundout.
Loraine began the ninth inning with a 5-3 lead but allowed singles by Mitchell and White to put the tying runs on base. Left fielder Jon Kemmer ripped a double down the first-base line, scoring Mitchell and sending White to third. With no outs, Loraine struck out catcher Brett Booth, got shortstop Thomas Lindauer to ground out to third base, and Ramsay to end the game by grounding out to second base.
The River Bandits and Chiefs play their third doubleheader against each other in 22 days, beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday in Peoria. Quad Cities left-hander Chris Lee (2-5) is scheduled to face Peoria right-hander Luis Perdomo (0-0) in Game 1, while the visitors have Andrew Thurman (4-4) scheduled to face right-hander Kevin Herget (3-3) for the home team in Game 2.
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.