The River Bandits were trailing 2-0 when a big bottom of the third inning turned things around. TinCaps starter Mike Watt retired seven in a row to start his night, but with one out in the third the left-hander issued four consecutive walks to load the bases and force in a run. Moments later, a wild pitch allowed a second run to race home and tie the score without the benefit of a base hit.
Cutler wasted no time breaking the tie, turning on a full-count pitch and ripping a two-run single to right-center. Later in the frame Paul Cruz drove home a run on a fielder's choice groundout, while Jarred Bogany lined a run-scoring triple down the left field line. When it was all said and done, six runs crossed the plate on two hits and five walks as Quad Cities seized a 6-2 lead.
The score was 6-3 when the River Bandits added single runs in the fifth and sixth. Travis Mitchell sparked the fifth-inning rally with a leadoff double and eventually scored on Cutler's sacrifice fly. One inning later, Alex Castellanos followed a one-out single by stealing second, moving to third on a groundout, and crossing the plate on a wild pitch.
Fort Wayne cut into the 8-3 deficit with back-to-back home runs in the top of the seventh. After a leadoff walk, Sawyer Carroll belted a two-run homer that cleared the ribbon board in right field. Just two pitches later, Allan Dykstra clobbered a towering solo shot that hooked inside the foul poll to pull the TinCaps to within 8-6.
Undaunted, Quad Cities held on for the win.
Dave Carpenter threw a 1-2-3 top of the eighth inning, and Roberto Espinoza's solo homer in the bottom half gave the River Bandits some breathing room. Fort Wayne made things interesting in the ninth by loading the bases with just one away. But Carpenter buckled down to retire the next two, aided by a running catch from Mitchell at the track in center to cement a 9-6 victory.
Josh Wilson (1-0) earned his first win of the year despite allowing four runs over three innings of relief, while Carpenter was rewarded with his second save. Watt (1-1) suffered the loss for the TinCaps, giving up six runs on one hit and five walks over 2.1 frames.
Early on, it was Fort Wayne jumping out to the early lead. Jeudy Valdez led of the ballgame with a double to left and came around to score on a two-base hit by Carroll - one of his three extra-base hits on the night. In the top of the third, Drew Cumberland singled and stole second, scoring on a base hit by Dykstra to give Fort Wayne a 2-0 lead.
That score remained until the third, when Quad Cities took the lead for good.
UP NEXT: The River Bandits continue Memorial Day weekend at Modern Woodmen Park with a U.S. Bank Family Sunday, also featuring a Salute to Apples theme in honor of the visiting Fort Wayne TinCaps. The series concludes on Monday with Senior Citizens Day at a special Noon start time.
ABOUT THE BANDITS: Under new ownership and management in 2008, the Quad Cities River Bandits topped 207,000 fans for only the sixth time in team history and the first time in 12 years. Having recently completed one of the most successful seasons in the history of the franchise - and with a renewed dedication to fans, sponsors and the Quad Cities community - the return of the River Bandits has brought a resurgence of support for the team. Banditwear, season tickets and mini-plans, and individual game tickets are on sale for the 2009 season by calling (563) 3-BANDIT or heading to www.RiverBandits.com. But hurry - good seats are going fast!