A focus on fundamentals helped the road-weary Quad-Cities River Bandits return to the win column Monday.
One day after the Quad-Cities team bus pulled up to Modern Woodmen Park at 6:30 a.m. following an overnight trip at the end of a 1-5 Midwest League road trip through Kentucky and Ohio, the River Bandits handled Burlington, 7-1, to end a season-long four-game slide.
“Today was huge for us,’’ catcher Chuckie Robinson said. “We had a tough (extra-innings walk-off) loss in Dayton in our last game, but the way we came back late in that game, it was good motivation to build on and get us going again.’’
Starting pitcher Carson LaRue set the tone, striking out seven batters and scattering three hits over six innings while not allowing an earned run.
He left with a lead, thanks to solo home runs by Robinson in the fourth inning and Taylor Jones in the fifth which helped Quad-Cities craft a 2-0 lead the Bees couldn’t catch.
“The defense was there all day for me. I made some good pitches, had a couple of bad ones that I was able to get away with and somedays, that’s good enough,’’ said LaRue, who improved to 4-1 with his longest start of the season. “It was a game we needed to win.’’
The River Bandits secured the victory after Burlington pulled within 2-1 in the top of the sixth on a two-out single by Jack Kruger, answering with two runs without needing a hit in the bottom half of the inning.
Rodrigo Ayarza and Robinson reached on walks to open the inning, then extended the lead. Ayarza scored on an error that followed a sacrifice by Marcos Almonte and Robinson gave Quad-Cities a 4-1 lead when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Yordan Alvarez.
As Abdiel Saldana completed the four-hit win with a three-inning save, the River Bandits extended the lead to 7-1 with a three-run seventh that included a run-scoring doube by Stephen Wrenn and a sacrifice fly by Almonte.
“We didn’t have a lot of hits (six), but I felt like we did a good job with our situational hitting and that’s what you have to do when the hits are hard to come by,’’ Quad-Cities manager Russ Steinhorn said. “It was good fundamental offense.’’
And that led the River Bandits to a needed win.
“After a long week on the road, we needed to get a win and get things going again,’’ LaRue said.