PEORIA, Ill. — Too many walks Thursday led Quad-Cities to what has become a familiar fate this season at Peoria’s Dozer Park.
For the fourth time in seven games the River Bandits have played in Peoria this season, the Chiefs celebrated a walk-off win against Quad-Cities, earning a 4-3 decision in the opening game of the best-of-three Midwest League Western Division semifinals.
Chiefs clean-up hitter Evan Mendoza drove home the game-winning run with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning.
His hit skipped past the glove of Kristian Trompiz at second and scored Mick Fennell, who led off the Peoria ninth by reaching on the sixth of seven walks River Bandits pitchers surrendered.
“Too many free bases,’’ Quad-Cities manager Russ Steinhorn said. “They walked in a run. We gave them 90 (feet) twice on errors and they had more walks than strikeouts (7-5). That’s a tough way to win a game.’’
Six of the walks came during the final four innings as the Chiefs overcame a 2-1 deficit to take the lead in a series which continues tonight at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport.
“We have to go and get the next two,’’ said Trompiz, who collected the River Bandits’ only hit in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position when he drove in a run with a two-out, fourth-inning single.
“We were looking to get one win here, so we have to keep playing hard and win the next game.’’
Quad-Cities had its chances, moving runners to third with one out in the sixth and seventh innings but the River Bandits were unable to make the most of a leadoff double by Colin Moran in the sixth and a one-out triple by Chas McCormick an inning later.
“Opportunities in this type of game, you’ve got to make them count,’’ Steinhorn said. “This time, we didn’t get that done.’’
Houston Astros pitcher Michael Feliz, on a rehab assignment with Quad-Cities, made his second one-inning start in three days for the River Bandits.
The 6-foot-4 right hander displayed a fastball consistently clocked at 93 miles per hour throughout a 1-2-3 opening inning, needing 15 pitches to retire the Chiefs on a pair of flyouts and a groundout.
“Feliz is ready,’’ Steinhorn said. “His stuff was electric.’’
Moran, an Astros third baseman also on a rehab assignment from the major-league club, doubled in the sixth inning after scoring the River Bandits’ first run to tie the game two innings earlier.
Hit by a pitch to leadoff the fourth inning, Moran advanced to third on a double to left by Abraham Toro-Hernandez and scored on a sacrifice fly by Josh Rojas to erase the 1-0 lead Peoria had taken on a Juan Yepez fielder’s choice in the second inning.
Toro-Hernandez took third on a groundout by Wander Franco, then gave Quad-Cities a 2-1 lead when Trompiz sliced a single through the left side of the infield.
The Chiefs regained a short-lived 3-2 advantage in the sixth, tying the game on a sacrifice fly by Brian O’Keefe before reliever Jesus Balaguer issued three straight two-out walks. The third, on a 3-1 pitch to Matt Fiedler, pushed Peoria in front 4-3.
The River Bandits answered quickly.
Luis Payano started the seventh inning with a hard-hit single that second baseman J.R. Davis couldn’t handle, then tied the game at 3-3 when he raced home after Chas McCormick beat the tag after driving a triple off the wall in center.
“We couldn’t get him in,’’ Steinhorn said. “We couldn’t get the hit when we needed it. That, and the walks, that was our night, so now we'll go home and try to have some fun.''