The River Bandits had pulled to within 5-3 when a series of defensive misplays led to three unearned runs in the top of the seventh. A fielding error by first baseman Osvaldo Morales and a throwing error by shortstop Niko Vasquez allowed the first two batters to reach. One out later Humberto Sosa lifted a flare to right-center, but a diving attempt by Paul Cruz came up short and allowed the first run of the frame to score. Kevin Coddington followed with a bouncer to third, but the throw from Castellanos to second pulled Brett Lilley off the bag as another run crossed the plate. There were two away when Dave Sappelt lined a single to center, driving in Sosa for an 8-3 lead as Frederick Parejo muffed the pickup in center for the fourth error of the inning.
Those unearned runs proved to be the difference. Castellanos launched a two-run homer in the bottom of the frame to cap a four-RBI night, pulling Quad Cities to within 8-5. But the River Bandits would not erase the three-run deficit.
Lance Janke (1-1) earned the win with five three-run innings, while Hector Cardenas (3-2) suffered the loss after 3.1 innings of three-run ball. Aguido Gonzalez (4) worked a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth for the save.
The game's first crucial sequence came moments after first pitch, as the Dragons used two singles and a walk to load the bases with nobody out in the top of the first. But River Bandits starter Hector Cardenas was up to the challenge. The Dominican left-hander struck out Stephen Chapman for the first out of the frame, and then induced a 6-4-3 double play from Carlos Mendez to escape the inning unscathed.
The scoreless tie remained until Dayton broke through against Cardenas in the fourth. Mendez started the rally with a double to left, while Cody Puckett promptly launched a two-run homer onto the berm in left. After a pitching change brought piggyback starter Andres Rosales into the game, two straight walks loaded the bases with one out. Miguel Rojas then drove in a pair with a single up the middle, and Byron Wiley added a run-scoring double as the Dragons jumped out to a 5-0 lead.
Quad Cities took advantage of a Dragons' defensive blunder in the fifth to get back into the game. With two on and two out, Castellanos sent a routine fly ball to center. But Andrew Means lost track of the ball and got a late break in, eventually diving for it but failing to make the catch. After two runs scored on the double, Lilley lined a single to right that scored Castellanos and pulled Quad Cities to within 5-3.
UP NEXT: The River Bandits continue their homestand on Friday with a post-game fireworks extravaganza in addition to ALS Association Night and Biker Night. Then a Rockin' Saturday rolls in with a Pete Kozma bobblehead giveaway and Habitat for Humanity Night. A U.S. Bank Family Sunday with a Salute to Apples theme in honor of the visiting Fort Wayne TinCaps before the homestand concludes on Monday, May 25, with Senior Citizens Day at a special Noon start time.