The sole survivor isn’t ready to call it a season just yet.
Chuckie Robinson, the only player on the Quad-Cities River Bandits roster who was with the team on Opening Day, wants to make the most of his first playoff opportunity in professional baseball.
“This is something that doesn’t come around every year. You never know when you’re going to get a chance to win a ring in this game so when the chance is there, make the most of it,’’ Robinson said. “I’m excited about it, ready to go.’’
The River Bandits will go to Peoria today to open the best-of-three Midwest League Western Division semifinals series with a 6:30 p.m. game against the Chiefs.
The second and, if necessary, third games of the series between the Astros and Cardinals affiliates will be played at Modern Woodmen Park on Thursday and Friday.
The River Bandits are Houston’s only full-season affiliate to reach the postseason this year and three Astros currently on major-league rehab assignments with the River Bandits, catcher Evan Gattis, pitcher Michael Feliz and infielder Colin Moran, will continue to play for Quad-Cities as the playoffs begin.
“They are here to get in some games to get them ready to return to Houston and whatever instructions we’re given in terms of playing them, we’ll follow,’’ River Bandits manager Russ Steinhorn said.
Infielder Josh Rojas, who spent the past few days with AAA Fresno, is expected to rejoin the River Bandits for the opening-round series with the Chiefs.
Quad-Cities won the season series between the teams, 9-8, and Steinhorn expects a competitive match-up against a Peoria team which swept three games between the teams last week.
“One through nine, it’s a fairly even match-up between two fundamentally-sound teams,’’ Steinhorn said. “I think it’s going to be a battle, just like it has been all season.’’
Six of the 17 games the teams have played this season have been decided by one run.
“We need to come out and play our game. If we do that, we’ll be in good shape,’’ Robinson said. “We got the bats going again (Monday) and we need to build on that. This is playoff baseball. We need to put everything we have into it.’’
Robinson, named as the catcher on the Midwest League all-star team last month, last participated in postseason competition at the collegiate level at Southern Mississippi.
“It didn’t happen last year, so I’m more than ready for this,’’ Robinson said. “This is what you work for all season.’’
Steinhorn doesn’t expect his expectations to change.
He wants the River Bandits to put together quality at-bats and play sound defense behind a pitching staff which is throwing strikes. That combination led Quad-Cities to a 79-59 record during the regular season.
“We have the second-best record in the league, the best record in our division and we won the second half in our division. We’ve done a lot of good things this year,’’ Steinhorn said. “They can’t take any of that away.’’
Peoria finished the regular season at 69-70, but the Chiefs have won eight of their last nine games to finish the second half with a 39-31 record, second only to the River Bandits’ 42-28 finish in the Western Division.
“We saw Peoria last week and they’re a good team,’’ outfielder Chas McCormick said. “We know what we’re up against, but we’re ready to go out and leave it all out there.’’
Steinhorn expects his message this week to be simple.
“The objective now is to win the last game you play,’’ Steinhorn said. “If you do that, you win the whole thing.’’