Fort Wayne Indiana
Just as they did in the first game of the Midwest League Championship, the Quad Cities River Bandits jumped out to a first-inning lead and never let go, beating the TinCaps 5-0 to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
In the top of the first, TinCaps’ starter Lake Bachar walked the second batter, Colin Moran, who then advanced to second on a slow-rolling base hit to right field by Troy Sieber. After Bachar recorded a strikeout, Abraham Toro, who also drove in Wednesday night’s first runs, slapped a double to center field, and Moran beat the throw to the plate on a close call with which the home crowd disagreed loudly. After walking the next batter, Bachar forced J.J. Matijevic into a ground out to end the inning. Although the River Bandits only held a 1-0 lead, that would be enough for a victory.
The River Bandits added two more runs in the top of the sixth, as reliever Osvaldo Hernandez ran into trouble, starting with Wander Franco, who led off with a double to the left-field corner. Kristian Trompiz followed with a single that was just out of the reach of second baseman Justin Lopez, putting runners at the corners. The River Bandits then went to the top of their order, and Chas McCormick singled to left to score Franco.
Manager Anthony Contreras then brought in left-hander Will Headean, who struck out a batter before giving up a single to Sieber that brought in Trompiz for a 3-0 lead.
Headean got out of the inning with some defensive help, as third baseman Hudson Potts charged across the infield to pick up a choppy grounder, stepped on second, and then threw to Kyle Overstreet for a double play.
The River Bandits kept the offensive pressure on the TinCaps throughout the game, adding an insurance run in both the eighth and ninth innings, and they finished the night with a total of twelve hits.
On the other side of the ball, the TinCaps produced as many hits than they did in Game 1, but they could not put enough offense together to threaten the River Bandits. The offensive leader for the game was Gabriel Arias, who singled, doubled, and tripled to go 3-for-3 (plus a walk), but he was the only TinCaps batter to have more than one hit. The Tincaps’ lineup combined for 6 strikeouts, and in particular, the bottom third of the order sagged, going 0-for-11 on the night.
The TinCaps’ best scoring chances came in the second, fourth, and seventh innings, and Arias played a role in all three opportunities. In the second, Arias hit a two-out triple that went for naught as the next batter, Buddy Reed, grounded out. In the fourth inning, Arias came to the plate after Jorge Oña hit a two-out single. Arias launched the ball into deep right field, but Oña was thrown out at the plate on a relay throw from Toro to catcher Chuckie Robinson.
Perhaps the best chance to score in the game came in the seventh, when Arias led off with a double. Even with no outs, however, the TinCaps could not bring him around, as relief pitcher Salvador Montano retired the next three batters to end the inning.
Friday is a day off for travel as the series shifts to Quad Cities for Game Three Saturday evening, as well as the remainder of the series if necessary. The TinCaps must win to prolong to best-of-five series and will have to win three in a row to win the Midwest League Championship. Winning three straight away games is a tall order, but the TinCaps are fresh off the Divisional Championship, where they dropped the first game at home, but then won two in Dayton to advance.
Game Note: In the top of the seventh, center fielder Buddy Reed made a spectacular catch on a deep drive by Josh Rojas. Reed made the catch but crashed into the outfield wall and was slow to get up. He ran off the field under his own power and had an at-bat in the bottom of the inning. Reed did not see action after that, however, as Robbie Podorsky entered the game in the eighth.