Ronnie Dawson smashed a pair of balls into the teeth of a biting wind Saturday afternoon at Modern Woodmen Park, denied home runs to right by a breeze gusting more than 30 miles per hour.
“The wind took two homers away from me. A year ago, that would have been the end of my day. Now, I keep going, keeping working,’’ Dawson said. “Every game, I’m hitting one, two balls hard. Those balls are going to drop for me eventually.’’
Quad-Cities manager Russ Steinhorn is counting on that after watching Kane County use a pair of three-run homers by Marcus Wilson to earn an 8-4 Midwest League win over the River Bandits in the deciding game of a three-game series.
Wilson sent balls over the fence in left in the fourth and eighth innings to help the Cougars to an 8-1 lead against Quad-Cities, which collected half of its eight hits in succession to open the bottom of the ninth.
“We’re looking to hit the ball hard, that’s our primary objective, and we’re making a lot of loud outs right now,’’ Steinhorn said. “While that’s kind of tough to take, it’s better in the long term to have loud outs than soft hits.’’
Quad-Cities did manage to make a little noise at the plate.
Rodrigo Ayarza belted a pair of solo home runs, both to left. The first cut into a 5-0 Kane County lead with one out in the sixth inning and the second opened a three-run ninth for the River Bandits.
“I was trying to do all I can to help,’’ Ayarza said. “They threw me a couple of fastballs, a couple of change-ups. I was looking for fastballs and I was ready. I took a couple of big swings.’’
Dawson followed Ayraza’s homer in the ninth with a single to center, then scored on a Daz Cameron triple that was followed by a run-scoring single by Alex De Goti.
“I stayed into it, kept working and got a hit,’’ Dawson said. “We all need to keep that approach, keep swinging.’’
A second-round pick of the Astros in the 2016 draft from Ohio State, Dawson delivered with more than his bat.
He went up and over the fence in left to take a homer away from the Cougars’ Manny Jefferson in the seventh inning, then chased down a pair of hard-hit balls in the eighth.
“If I’m not getting hits, nobody’s getting hits if I have anything to say about it,’’ Dawson said. “That’s my mindset on defense. If the ball is headed my way, it’s my job to get there.’’
Dawson in left and Cameron center both forced the Cougars to deal with some tough outs with their defensive work.
“When Dawson and Daz are running around out there doing what they do, they’re fun to watch in the outfield,’’ Steinhorn said. “Those are the things that keep you in a game. We need to keep that up and the hits, they’ll come with time.’’