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Cougars Halt River Bandits' Winning Streak

The Kane County Cougars were on the scoreboard before the Quad Cities River Bandits recorded an out in the bottom of the first inning Thursday night, and the home team never let the visitors closer than two runs the rest of the night in a 7-4 Independence Day victory at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark the snapped the River Bandits' five-game winning streak.

Quad Cities (10-4 second half, 48-34 overall) had won the last six meetings with Kane County (3-11 second half, 33-47 overall) to open an 11-2 lead in the season series, but the Cougars had the upper hand almost from the start.

After Cougars right-hander Felix Pena worked a 1-2-3 top of the first inning, River Bandits right-hander Juan Minaya (1-2) walked and hit the first two batters in order. After a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position, Cougars first baseman Dan Vogelbach grounded a double down the third-base line that gave Kane County a 2-0 lead. A ground ball moved Vogelbach to third base, and shortstop Marco Hernandez had an infield single to second base that brought home Vogelbach for a 3-0 margin.

In the next half inning, the River Bandits got a leadoff single by first baseman Jesse Wierzbicki, followed walks to three of the next four batters to force in a run. But Pena struck out second baseman Austin Elkins and retired center fielder Teoscar Hernandez on a flyout to center field to strand the bases loaded with a 3-1 lead.

After Minaya allowed three runs on four hits, four walks and two hit batters in three innings, left-hander Mitchell Lambson started the bottom of the fourth inning. He gave up a one-out infield single and hit batter before Vogelbach and third baseman Jeimer Candelario hit consecutive RBI singles to make it 5-1. Lambson then retired seven straight batters to finish three innings of work.

Wierzbicki had a team-leading three hits - all singles in his first three at-bats - including an RBI single with two outs in the fifth inning to close the lead to 5-2. That set up the last time Quad Cities brought the tying run as far as home plate. Left-hander Nathan Dorris (3-3) walked left fielder Dan Gulbransen before getting third baseman Rio Ruiz to hit into a bases-loaded, inning-ending fielder's choice.

Cougars second baseman Gioskar Amaya finished a triple shy of the cycle and capped a three-hit game by hitting an eighth-inning, leadoff home run against right-hander Jamaine Cotton that extended the lead to 6-2. Left fielder Reggie Golden hit a double and scored on a ground-ball double play for a 7-2 Cougars advantage.

Right-hander Dillon Maples allowed a ninth-inning, two-run double by Teoscar Hernandez in the final three innings to earn his first save.

Quad Cities will continue its only scheduled five-game road series of the season on Friday night at Kane County. River Bandits right-hander Jordan Jankowski (3-1) will face Cougars left-hander Brain Smith (2-3).

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