As fireworks filled the skies over Modern Woodmen Park on Tuesday following the Quad-Cities River Bandits’ second straight walk-off win over Clinton, sparks continued to the side of home plate between LumberKings manager Eddie Menchaca and umpires.
At issue was the deciding play in the River Bandits’ 7-6 Midwest League win, a deep, bases-loaded fly ball to the warning track in right center with one out in the bottom of the ninth by Jordan Scott, which Clinton center-fielder Jabari Henry opted to let drop.
Once the ball hit the ground, the Bandits’ Austin Elkins raced across the plate from third with the winning run as Scott rounded first base.
By that point, River Bandits players were spilling out of the dugout and onto the field to celebrate Quad-Cities’ sixth walk-off win of the season and its fifth in its last 13 home games.
Brett Phillips, the Bandits runner who had been at second base, never reached third and after a Clinton appeal there, he was ruled out and Scott’s drive became a fielder’s choice.
The LumberKings relayed the ball to second, hoping to get Teoscar Hernandez called out for failing to tag that bag and send the game into extra innings following a double play.
But, umpires ruled that Hernandez had touched second base and was retreating toward first as the celebration started, prompting a sometimes-heated discussion of more than 10 minutes between managers of both teams and the umpires that continued even as a postgame fireworks display began.
“The umpire at first (Larry Allen) saw Hernandez on top of second base and because Teoscar had gotten there, there was no double play,’’ River Bandits manager Omar Lopez said.
“Brett Phillips did not touch third and the out was called. Everybody was excited, running around. This is A ball, but hopefully he learns the next time he is in that situation that he has to advance. Baseball is a crazy game. It teaches you something every day.’’
Quad-Cities did advance its win total with its fourth straight victory over the LumberKings and the second straight that saw the River Bandits overcome an early five-run deficit.
A two-run double by the LumberKings’ Taylor Ard left Clinton in control 6-1 midway through the fourth inning, but a two-run double by Roberto Pena in the bottom half of that inning and a two-run homer by Jesse Wierzbicki in the fifth positioned Quad-Cities for a comeback.
The River Bandits tied the game in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Elkins, an effort that was complemented by five and one-third innings of scoreless relief work by Juri Perez and John Neely after the LumberKings tagged starter Lance McCullers for six runs and nine hits in the first four innings.
“McCullers’ fastball was up and he paid for it, but our guys were relaxed. They knew they could come back,’’ Lopez said. “They had done it the night before and they played with confidence. They are warriors.’’