Mark Appel returned to form Monday night at Modern Woodmen Park.
Rebounding from the roughest of his eight previous professional starts, the Quad-Cities right-hander dominated to earn his second pro victory in the River Bandits’ 6-1 Midwest League win over Burlington.
“When a competitor like that has a tough start, you expect him to come out and show people the next time out that this is what I can do and Mark did that,’’ Quad-Cities manager Omar Lopez said. “He competed the way we hoped that he would.’’
A crowd of 3,529 watched as the first overall selection in this year’s draft gave up two hits over his expected five-inning start, striking out six Bees during a walk-free performance against the Angels affiliate.
“Things felt good. I felt like I made the adjustments I needed to make from my last start,’’ Appel said. “From the elevation of my pitches to getting ahead in the count, I was able to do what I set out to accomplish. I was making good, quality pitches down in the zone.’’
Mitchell Lambson and Andrew Walter finished off the three-hit victory, adding to the River Bandits’ total of 11 strikeouts.
In total, Appel threw 69 pitches, including 43 for strikes, as he bounced back from a nine-hit, seven-run outing that ended with one out into the fourth one week earlier against Wisconsin.
“In terms of command, it was probably my best outing,’’ Appel said. “My game against Cedar Rapids two starts ago was solid, but I feel like this game topped that. It was a start where I wanted to go out for the sixth and seventh, but when Omar told me I was done, I understood.’’
Appel (2-1) earned the win after Quad-Cities pushed three runs across in its half of the fourth inning after Burlington had opened a 1-0 lead in the top half, scoring on a wild pitch following a leadoff double by the Bees’ Angel Rosa and a sacrifice.
The River Bandits used a bunt single by Austin Elkins to load the bases before a four-pitch walk to Jobduan Morales tied the game and ended the start for the Bees’ Pat Lowery (4-8).
Tony Kemp followed by driving a two-run single up the middle to give Quad-Cities a lead which stuck.
“The main thing I’m trying to do is put the team in a position to win and the bats came alive in the third inning and helped me do that,’’ Appel said. “It’s a team game and it’s my job to help set the tone. All I want is the team to win and Lambson and Walter made that happen with their work behind me.’’
Lambson made certain of that, striking out three during two perfect innings of relief as the River Bandits extended their lead to 6-1 by bunching together three hits in a three-run sixth.
The first two scored when a single by Danry Vasquez bounced over the head of Bees first baseman Garrett Cannizaro which preceded an RBI single by Bobby Borchering.