Monday morning, the baseball diamond at Modern Woodmen Park was covered with two inches of snow.
Twelve hours later, the Quad-Cities River Bandits littered it with baseballs.
Quad-Cities earned its first win of the young Midwest League season Monday night, taking extra bases on six of its nine hits in an 11-1 victory over Kane County.
J.J. Matijevic and Corey Julks pounded the River Bandits’ first three home runs of the season while Adrian Tovalin and Bryan De La Cruz contributed three doubles as manager Mickey Storey watched his team begin to find an offensive rhythm.
“We hit the ball hard and did a good job of finding the gaps. The guys have been working hard and it was good to see the dugout come to life,’’ Storey said. “We pitched well, executed a rundown, threw a guy out at the plate. It was all happening for us.’’
Matijevic, who went 3-for-4 including a pair of home runs, said the big offensive night was what he and the River Bandits needed following an 0-2 start.
“It felt good. I struggled in our last game, trying to do too much,’’ Matijevic said. “I just tried to be myself, tried to look for good pitches and make good contact.’’
The offensive effort was complemented by a tone-setting start on the mound by Yohan Ramirez, who struck out seven and walked one batter while allowing three hits in the first five-inning outing of the season for a Quad-Cities pitcher.
Cristian Javier followed by working into and out of trouble in the sixth before settling in strike out six Cougars while scattering three hits while pitching the final four innings.
“Ramirez was good, around the plate, had good command of his slider and Javier came in and finished, which is what you hope for,’’ Storey said.
Ramirez exited with a 3-1 lead, the result of an offense which pushed solo runs across in the second, third and fourth innings and loaded the bases in a scoreless fifth.
An errant pickoff attempt by Cougars starter Cole Stapler allowed Tovalin to score after opening the River Bandits’ second with a gap-splitting double to left-center field.
Matijevic extended the Quad-Cities lead to 2-0 with a one-out homer in the third.
After Kane County answered with a run in the top of the fourth, De La Cruz led off the bottom of the inning with the first of his two doubles before scoring on a Marcos Almonte single.
Julks worked the count before depositing a two-run, two-out homer over the fence in left-center, extending the River Bandits’ advantage to 5-1 through six innings.
Quad-Cities then broke the game open with a six-run seventh inning, helped by two Kane County errors, a wild pitch and three of the nine walks issued in the game by a collection of four Cougars pitchers.
De La Cruz and Matijevic finished and ended the big inning. De La Cruz brought two runs home when he doubled off the base in the wall in center while Matjevic added the final two on his second blast to right of the night.
“We needed a game like this, just to get everybody going,’’ Matijevic said. “Everybody’s been working hard. Now, we have something to build on.’’