Trey Hearne the Swing's staff ace took the loss in spite of giving up just one earned run. Hearne came into Game One after he finished the season with the same success he had showed all year long, winning nine of his last 10 decisions since June 16. Over those 14 starts, his 9-1 record was accompanied by a 1.95 ERA (83IP/18ER), 68 strikeouts, and 65 hits allowed.
After beginning the 2006 season in the Swing bullpen, Hearne had earned his way into the starting rotation by June and emerged as the staff ace for the team that won the Western Division second-half title. His 2.25 ERA was second in the MWL while his 12 wins were the most on the team and tied for fifth in the league. Hearne used above average control and a four-pitch repertoire (FB, CV, SL, CH) to hold opponents to a .216 batting average while striking out 106 against 34 walks. During his 17 starts, he posted a 2.03 ERA.
Hearne did all he could do to keep his team in the game, but Kane County starter, left-hander Benjamin Jukich held the Swing to just four hits over 7.2 innings, striking out eight batters and walking only two. Brad Kilby came in and pitched a perfect 1.1 inning of relief.
The Swing closed out the regular season by jumping all over the Burlington Bees in a 10-4 win at John O'Donnell Stadium. QC scored in each of their first five offensive innings on their way to an 8-0 lead. Adam Ottavino was electric with four strikeouts in two innings, but QC went to the pen early in order to preserve him for a potential game three start on short rest at Elfstrom Stadium on Friday.
Tyler Greene went 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBI, Daryl Jones blasted his first home run with the Swing, and the 2006 squad cemented their lore in franchise history by establishing new marks for doubles (253), batting average (.272), and hits (1,274) in a single season.
Quad Cities, who finished the regular season with their best record since 2001 (80-57), are looking for their first victory in a playoff series since 1996, when they beat Cedar Rapids in three games before bowing out to Wisconsin in the Semifinals. Their last Midwest League title came in 1990—also the last season that Davenport hosted the league's All-Star Game—when they swept Cedar Rapids in the Semifinals before finishing off South Bend in four games. The last Swing playoff appearance came last season, when QC lost seven of their last eight regular season games to back into the playoffs before getting swept in the Quarterfinals (outscored 21-2) by the Clinton Lumber Kings.
After getting hot at the end of the first half to pull out a 34-34 record at the All-Star break, the Swing kept rolling to a 42-27 mark that earned them the Western Division crown and a playoff berth in the second half. Overall, Quad Cities' 76-61 record was good for third in the entire MWL. The offense established new single season franchise records for batting average (.272), doubles (253), and hits (1,274) while checking in with the league's top offense, the third-highest total for home runs (90) and stolen bases (146), and striking out fewer times than any other team (841). On the mound Quad Cities ranked fourth in the MWL with a 3.45 team ERA that included a 3.25 mark by the bullpen, as the Swing staff allowed the fewest home runs (58) in the league.
With a completely different cast of characters than the one they opened the season with, the Swing in the second half have been led by a combination of 2006 draftees and players who have been with the team since opening day. The 2006 draft brought six difference-makers from the collegiate ranks, highlighted by closer Chris Perez (12 sv, 1.81 ERA, 32K), three-hole hitter Jon Jay (60G, .342, 45BI), and leadoff hitter Shane Robinson (63G, 41R, 13SB).
Meanwhile, All-Star catcher Bryan Anderson (.320, 29-2B) and sparkplug Casey Rowlett (30-2B, 20SB) have been with the team all season, as have starting pitchers Trey Hearne (12-3, 2.25, 106K), Adam Daniels (7-11, 3.07, 128K), and five of the team's eight relievers.
The most notable player who does not fit into either of those two categories is shortstop Tyler Greene (59G, .287-15-47, 11SB), who skipped the MWL during his 2005 debut only to be demoted from Palm Beach (FSL) on July 1. Hearne finished second in the league's ERA race with his 2.25 clip, while Anderson checked in tied for sixth with his .302 batting average.
The Swing will be forced to win two games on the road at Kane County to win the series.
Adam Daniels will take the mound for the Swing Thursday. Daniels has just seven victories against 11 defeats, but his 3.07 ERA is the stuff respectability is made of and he'll get his chance to swing the tide to Quad Cities favor.