Quad Cities Report: River Bandits Can’t Overcome Two Rough Innings
The Peoria Chiefs came out early Wednesday night and essentially put the game away before the first inning was over. For the Chiefs, five of the first six batters reached base, including a three run homerun by first baseman, RJ Dennard. In the fifth inning, the long ball hurt the Bandits again as Peoria Chief catcher, Brian O’Keefe, hit a two run shot.
On the hill for the Bandits was Matt Bower, a tall lefty who consistently threw in the mid 80’s and could not get the Chiefs to bite much on his breaking balls. In total, Bower pitched 5 innings, allowing 5 runs (all earned), 2 homeruns, 5 k’s, and 1 walk. One of his only saving graces was that he induced two double plays, one of which was in the brutal first inning that limited what could have been an even worse inning. As I mentioned, Bower just struggled to get his offspeed pitches across for strikes, and the Chiefs were certainly not chasing it. As a result, the Chiefs were able to sit on his fastball and hit it hard. Bower never seemed comfortable out there, either. In his five innings he had only one clean one, working out of the stretch the majority of the time.
His relief was a different story, though. Zac Person came on in the sixth inning and pitched three great innings of one hit ball. While Bower did not seem to have much he could throw to put hitters away, Person came on and seemed tough for hitters to square him up. When he missed, he missed up, out of the strike zone, but the hitters never seemed to be comfortable in the box against him. Person’s final line was 3 innings, 0 runs, 4 k’s, 2 walks.
Offensively, there was not a whole lot to get excited about. The River Bandits managed just six hits. Their lone run was scored in the seventh inning when second baseman Ryne Birk (1 for 4, RBI) hit a double scoring Kristian Trompiz (2 for 4, 1 run) from first. Pat Porter also went 2 for 4 with a double.
Sights and sounds
- It is never ideal when the opposing pitcher is able to strike out the side, but it is even worse when the opposing pitcher strikes out the side in the ninth inning and all three strikeouts are backwards k’s. In the ninth inning, Pat Porter, Hector Roa, and Anthony Hermelyn all went down looking by Chief’s pitcher, Tyler Bray. While a couple of the called third strikes (especially the one against Hermelyn) seemed to be borderline, it is still tough to watch them not put up much of a fight to end the game.
- This was my first opportunity to watch Astros’ 28th ranked prospect, Stephen Wrenn, and I came away impressed. While Wrenn went 0 for 3 with a HBP, two of his three outs were on balls that were smoked. In the sixth inning he hit a bullet that the Chiefs’ second baseman, Josh Swirchak, made a fantastic play on. In the 8th inning, I don’t think Wrenn could have hit the ball any harder, unfortunately it was right at the Chiefs’ rightfielder, Bladamil Franco.
- 4th ranked prospect Kyle Tucker, who was playing centerfield tonight, came away hitless after going 0-4. While he couldn’t get anything going at the plate, his defense in center continues to impress. While he did not have to make the spectacular play, his defense seemed effortless tonight, with great routes and reads on balls hit his direction.
Play of the Game
Unfortunately, this is the play of the game for the wrong reason. In the first inning, Bower had just induced a 6-4-3 double play and, with a runner on third with two outs, had a chance to get out of the inning unscathed. Unfortunately, the next batter, Chris Chinea, hit a little flare into shallow right field. While the outfield shift did not help matters, I really felt as if Pat Porter did not get a great jump on the ball, nor did he sell out to get to the ball. It really just seemed like it was a ball, despite having the shift on, that could have and should have been caught. Had it been, it would have been a 0-0 game going into the second inning. Instead, after another single and then a homerun, the River Bandits trailed 4-0 after the first.
**Photo Credit: Richard Guill**