River Bandits Swept by Clinton in 6-5, 13-Inning Loss
Clinton LumberKings catcher Mike Dowd hit a sacrifice fly to center field that scored pinch runner Dillon Hazlett in the bottom of the 13th inning for a 6-5, walk-off win to clinch the Midwest League Western Division second-half title and complete a four-game sweep of the Quad Cities River Bandits Tuesday night at Ashford University Field.
Clinton (42-22 second half, 65-67 overall) became the first team to sweep Quad Cities in a four-game series since the LumberKings did the same at Modern Woodmen Park Aug. 3-6, 2010. After four hours and 15 minutes - the River Bandits' longest game of the season - the defending Midwest League Champions lost their fifth straight game and saw their elimination number drop to one because of the loss paired with a win by Burlington at Kane County. A Bees win or River Bandits loss in the final six games of the season would eliminate Quad Cities (29-35, 64-69) from postseason contention. The River Bandits' streak of five straight winning half-seasons will be snapped.
In extra innings, the River Bandits twice had the potential go-ahead run thrown out at home plate. In the 11th inning, third baseman Anthony Melchionda tried to score on a double by catcher Juan Castillo, but was thrown out by left fielder Patrick Brady. In the 13th inning against right-hander Joshua Corrales (4-4), Melchionda hit a two-out single with left fielder Colin Walsh at second base, but right fielder Kevin Rivers threw out Walsh at home.
In the bottom of the 13th inning, right-hander Robert Stock (5-2) walked and hit the first two batters. Hazlett then pinch ran at second base before Stock struck out Rivers. A passed ball by Castillo moved up both runners before Stock hit center fielder Jabari Blash to load the bases. Dowd then flied to center fielder Nick Martini on the game's final play.
River Bandits designated hitter Stephen Piscotty finished 0-for-5 with an intentional walk in the 13th inning, ending a 16-game hitting streak that tied him with Anthony Garcia for the team season high and the fourth-longest streak in the Midwest League this season.
First baseman David Medina started the River Bandits' offense with their first hit and run in the third inning, and he hit his ninth home run of the season - and first since July 16 - to put the visitors up 5-4 in the fifth inning after Clinton had taken a 4-1 lead with a three-run home run in the bottom of the fourth by designated hitter Jharmidy De Jesus.
Left-hander Dail Villanueva began the fifth inning with a one-run lead, but he hit each of the first two batters, allowed a single to Blash and walked in the tying run with a base on balls by Dowd. That prompted a pitching change to right-hander Dixon Llorens, who struck out the next three batters - all with the bases loaded - to end the inning with a 5-5 tie. Villanueva got a no-decision after lasting four innings, giving up nine hits, five earned runs and four walks, and striking out four batters. Llorens went 2 2/3 shutout innings and was succeeded by right-hander Heath Wyatt for three innings and right-hander Ethan Cole for 2 1/3 innings to keep the tie through the 12th.
The River Bandits begin their final home series of the regular season on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the Kane County Cougars. Right-hander Jhonny Polanco will make his Midwest League debut against Cougars right-hander Aaron Brooks (9-12).
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