The Quad Cities franchise has reached the Midwest League championship for the first time since 1990. That team featured future major leaguers Chad Curtis, Damion Easley, Larry Gonzales, Reggie Williams, Erik Bennett, and Marcus Moore. During those days, the then Quad City Angels were an affiliate of the Anaheim Angels and had a record of 81-59, finishing ten games out in the South Division.
Five years later, the Quad Cities franchise made the move to the St. Louis Cardinals organization. The Swing of the Quad Cities made several runs for the top spot in the Midwest League Western Division, finishing second or third in the first two seasons, but dropped off in the following years after a name change. The now-River Bandits have turned things around in the last two years, making playoff runs in each of those seasons.
The River Bandits ended the 2011 campaign with an overall record of 81-56 for a first place finish in the Western Division. They swept both the Clinton Lumber Kings (63-76) and the Kane County Cougars (65-74) in a best of three series to reach the Midwest League Championship.
The Lansing Lugnuts held an overall record of 77-60 for a second place finish in the Eastern Division. They took two of three games from the first place Dayton Dragons (83-57) and swept the Fort Wayne TinCaps (69-70).
In game on of the finals on
Wednesday night at
Nolin got off to a quick start with four strikeouts, six ground outs (including a double play), a fly out, and only gave up a single in the first four innings, keeping the River Bandits off the scoreboard.
Whiting walked his first batter faced but calmed down to finish off the first inning.
Marcus Knecht led off the second for the
Lugnuts with a double and moved to third on a Carlos Perez bunt. K.C. Hobson singled to center to score
Whiting once again gave up a leadoff hit, a single to Oliver Dominguez in the third. Peter Mooney singled to left and a wild pitch moved both runners to second and third. Whiting walked the next two batters as the Lugnuts took a 2-0 lead. The River Bandits would get out of the inning without allowing another run.
After giving up two runs in the first three innings, Whiting pitched two scoreless to keep the River Bandits within reach.
Quad Cities loaded the bases in fifth with a single by Jonathan Rodriguez and free passes to Cody Stanley and Nick Longmire. However Nolin got out of the inning striking out Colin Walsh, Geoff Klein, and Joey Bergman in order, leaving the bases full.
Dustin Antolin replaced Nolin after a leadoff walk to Kolten Wong in the sixth. Ronny Gil struck out and Wong was thrown out at second. Oscar Taveras walked but was thrown out at second in a force out grounder by Rodriguez.
Drew Benes took over for Whiting in the sixth and pitched the next two innings. He gave up two singles and struck two out.
Longmire singled to center after
Gil reached on a throwing error
and made it safely to second to follow Wong's ground out in the eighth. Taveras then hit a two-run homer, giving
the River Bandits a 3-2 lead.
Rodriguez then singled to shortstop and the Lugnuts committed a second
error to allow another base runner to reach second.
Aidan Lucas replaced Benes and he struck all three batters out in the bottom of the eighth.
Webb walked Klein to lead off the ninth. Chris Edmondson came in for Klein on the bases and stole second. Wong grounded out and Gil followed with a strikeout.
Dean Kiekhefer relieved Lucas to close out the game for the River Bandits, who held a 4-2 lead. He got a couple quick outs in a grounder and fly ball, but Dominguez struck again with a single to centerfield. Jonathan Jones doubled to right field and moved Dominguez to third. With runners on second and third, the Lugnuts sent Markus Brisker up to pinch hit. Brisker flew out to Longmire, giving Quad Cities the game one win.
Oscar Taveras 1-for-3 with one home run, two RBIs, one run, and one walk.
Jonathan Rodriguez 2-for-4 with one run, one strikeout, and assisted in two double plays.
Nick Longmire 2-for-3 with one double, one two-out RBI, one run, one walk, and one strikeout.
Colin Walsh 1-for-4 with one double and one strikeout.
Geoff Klein 1-for-2 with one RBI, one walk, one sac fly, and one strikeout.
Boone Whiting started and pitched five
innings. He allowed six hits, two
earned runs, three walks, threw one wild pitch, struck five out, and assisted in
one double play. (g/f:7-1)
Drew Benes entered in the sixth and pitched two innings. He allowed two hits, no runs, and struck two out for the winning decision (1-0). (g/f:1-1)
Aidan Lucas entered in the eighth and pitched one inning. He allowed no hits or runs, and struck three out for the hold (2).
Dean Kiekhefer entered in the ninth and pitched one inning. He allowed two hits and no runs for the save (2). (g/f:1-2)
Kolten Wong 0-for-4 with one walk, one caught stealing, and assisted in two double plays.
Cody Stanley 0-for-3 with one walk, one strikeout, and allowed two stolen bases.
Joey Bergman 0-for-4 with one strikeout and grounded into one double play.
Game Two - Thursday
Quad Cities visits
Anthony Ferrara (1-0, 4.50) vs. Justin Nicolino (0-0, 1.69)
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