The Quad Cities River Bandits used the long ball and a big seventh inning to pick up their first win of 2018 over the Kane County Cougars on Monday night. J.J. Matijevic went 3-4 with two home runs and three runs batted in, while Corey Julks added a two-run home run of his own. Those long balls, combined with the pitching of Yohan Ramirez and Cristian Javier helped guide the Bandits to an 11-1 victory. The game was played in front of 754 fans at Modern Woodmen Park.
The River Bandits grabbed their first lead of the season in the bottom of the second inning. Adrian Tovalin led off the frame with a line drive double into the left center gap. Kane County starter Cole Stapler struck out the following hitter, Jake Adams, before issuing a free pass to Bryan De La Cruz. With runners on the corners, Stapler unleashed a wild pick-off throw to first base that skipped away from first baseman Yoel Yanqui. Tovalin scored easily to make it 1-0.
The lead doubled in the third inning, when J.J. Matijevic blasted the first home run of the year for a River Bandits hitter. The outfielder lined a delivery from Stapler over the wall in right field to bump the lead up to 2-0.
Kane County cut the lead in half with an unearned run off of River Bandits starting pitcher Yohan Ramirez in the fourth, but the Bandits bounced right back in the bottom half. Bryan De La Cruz started the inning with a double and eventually came around to score on an RBI single off the bat of Marcos Almonte.
The lead would grow to 5-1 in the Bandits half of the sixth. With two outs, nine-hitter Cody Bohanek worked a walk off of Cougars reliever Jake Winston to turn over the lineup. Corey Julks made Winston pay by blasting a two-run home run to left center.
The River Bandits blew the game open in the seventh by scoring six runs, only two of which were earned, thanks to a couple of Kane County miscues. Reliever Anfernee Benitez walked three batters in the frame and allowed a two-run double off the bat of Marcos Almonte. He was replaced mid-inning by Matt Peacock who promptly surrendered a two-run home run to Matijevic, his second of the contest. When the dust settled, the lead had expanded to ten.
Ramirez tossed five innings and allowed just one unearned run on three hits, while striking out seven. Javier followed and worked four scoreless frames in relief with six strikeouts. The River Bandits bullpen has not allowed an earned run in their first 13.2 innings of work this season.
De La Cruz doubled twice and drove in a pair. Tovalin finished with a hit and drew three walks.
The River Bandits (1-2) battle the Cougars (1-3) once again on Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. at Modern Woodmen Park. RHP J.B. Bukauskas will start for the River Bandits against Kane County RHP Jeff Bain.
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.