Quad Cities River Bandits second baseman Brian Blasik went 3-for-4, and left-hander Brian Holmes struck out eight to seal the deal on the River Bandits' Guaranteed Win Night with a 4-2 victory over the Cedar Rapids Kernels in front of 1,611 fans at Modern Woodmen Park Wednesday night.
In the first inning, Blasik lined a double down the left-field line with one out to start the River Bandits offense. One batter later Austin "Catfish" Elkins, making his first start at shortstop this season, blooped a single to left to drive in Blasik and give Quad Cities a 1-0 lead.
After Cedar Rapids (21-9) had two first-inning singles, Holmes kept the Kernels hitless for 15 batters before allowing a two-out triple to Candido Pimentel in the fifth inning. Byron Buxton worked a walk against Holmes to put runners on the corners, and Quad Cities manager Omar Lopez went to his bullpen to call upon right-hander Michael Dimock. The Greensboro, N.C., native got Niko Goodrum to fly out to center to end the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth, Teoscar Hernandez belted a solo home run (2) into the back of the left field berm, to extend the lead to 2-0. Kernels first baseman Dalton Hicks returned the deficit to one in the sixth against right-hander Jordan Jankowski by hitting a solo blast to right that exited the stadium over the Built Ford Tough Deck for the Kernels' first run.
The River Bandits (19-11) added single runs in the sixth and seventh innings to increase the lead. Jesse Wierzbicki led off the sixth frame with a walk. Ryan Dineen slapped a grounder back to the pitcher Brett Lee, who misfired on a fielder's choice attempt on Wierzbicki at second base. The error allowed Dineen and Wierzbicki to reach first and third base respectively. Wierzbicki was able to score on a double play off the bat of Roberto Peña. In the seventh, Jordan Scott walked and stole second. A bloop single off the bat of Blasik caused Scott to lie on the brakes while rounding third. A throwing error from third baseman Tyler Harrison - trying to catch Scott at third - trailed through shortstop Jorge Polanco into foul territory, allowing Scott to scamper home.
Cedar Rapids battled back in the ninth, getting a run on right-hander John Neely, but he stranded runners on second and third by striking out Buxton and retiring Goodrum on a groundout to shortstop for his sixth save. Jankowski (1-0) allowed one run and struck out three in two and one-third innings. Holmes struck out eight Cedar Rapids hitters in four and two-thirds innings as the first Bandits starter. River Bandits left-hander Mitchell Lambson delivered a perfect two-thirds of an inning of relief in the eighth and was credited with his third hold of the year. Lee (2-2) gave up three runs - two earned - on four hits in six innings and suffered the loss.
Quad Cities closed within two games of the first-place Kernels, who will visit Modern Woodmen Park at 7 p.m. Thursday. Bandits right-hander Vincent Velasquez (3-0) is scheduled to deliver the first pitch against right-hander Hudson Boyd (1-1) and the Kernels at 7 p.m.