Carson LaRue earned his Midwest League-leading 12th victory of the season Monday, but not without an assist from a potent Quad-Cities offense.
LaRue and the River Bandits spotted visiting Beloit a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning before Quad-Cities clubbed its way to an 8-5 win, counting three home runs among 13 hits on its way to its seventh consecutive victory.
Abraham Toro-Hernandez, Josh Rojas and Chuckie Robinson each belted tone-setting homers early in innings to keep the heat on the Snappers.
“Down 2-0, you need something big like the homer Toro-Hernandez hit to open the second to change momentum,’’ River Bandits manager Russ Steinhorn said. “Whenever you can open an inning with a homer or a big hit, it does set a tone.’’
Toro-Hernandez set one which led to a four-run inning, giving Ray Henderson a chance to single home the go-ahead run.
“Carson has been dealing for us all year and we knew he’d be putting up zeroes. We just had to stay with our approach on offense. We did and we had one of those innings like the big innings we’ve been having all year,’’ said Henderson, whose three-hit game was matched by Rojas.
The Western Division-leading River Bandits had to rally after three of the first four batters LaRue faced collected hits, helping Beloit to a quick 2-0 lead when a pair of runs scored on a single up the middle Kyle Nowlin.
The lead didn’t last for Zack Erwin, a 6-foot-5 left hander who entered the game with a 5-2 record and 1.68 ERA in 13 starts for the Snappers.
“Erwin has put up some big-time numbers for them this season,’’ Steinhorn said. “We helped ourselves by laying off his off-speed stuff low and out of the zone.’’
Quad-Cities moved ahead to stay during a four-run second inning which opened with Toro-Hernandez’s fourth home run in the 12 games he has played for the River Bandits.
The first six batters to face Erwin in the inning reached base, allowing Quad-Cities to tie the game on a Kristian Trompiz single and move ahead 4-2 on consecutive run-scoring singles by Henderson and Troy Sieber.
The River Bandits strung together three straight singles an inning later, extending their lead on a single to left by Henderson.
“He had a lot of good pitches, a lot of movement on his fastball,’’ Henderson said. “We just had to stay with our plan and wait for our pitch.’’
Erwin left after three innings, but Quad-Cities added to its lead when Rojas opened the bottom of the fifth with a homer to right and the sixth when Robinson followed a leadoff walk to Ronnie Dawson by leaving the park for the 12thh time this season with a towering shot to left.
All of that helped LaRue improve to 12-4 on the season.
The River Bandits’ righthander didn’t allow a run over his final 4.1 innings of work.
“He tried to be a little too cute with his stuff early, but once he started working off of his fastball it changed the dynamics of the game,’’ Steinhorn said. “He did a great job of coming back with four-and-a-third scoreless.’’
He allowed eight hits and walked one batter but did strike out seven Snappers, teaming with Lucas Williams, Dustin Hunt and Salvador Montano on a 15-strikeout performance.