Conrad Gregor’s first home run of the season was caught on the fly Saturday night by the happiest fan at Modern Woodmen Park.
As Gregor rounded the bases following a three-run blast which put Quad-Cities ahead to stay in its 5-2 Midwest League win over Cedar Rapids, the fan standing behind the wall in the right-center power alley pumped his arms in the air, proudly waving the ball for all in the crowd of 5,494 to see.
He had his reasons.
“That was my dad,’’ Gregor explained after the River Bandits finished off the three-game sweep of the Kernels.
That’s right, Marty Gregor, visiting the Quad-Cities for the series on a family trip from Carmel, Ind., caught his son’s first home-run ball of the season.
“He may have to watch every game from out there,’’ Gregor said. “It’s a little unbelievable, but I’m glad my parents were here to see it and when I got back to the dugout, I heard he made a pretty good catch.’’
Gregor’s homer erased the 2-1 lead Cedar Rapids had held since the second inning and it was followed by solo shot by Tyler White which gave the River Bandits their winning margin.
Unlike the no doubter Gregor drove, White’s ball was lost in the early evening sky by Kernels left fielder Joel Licon before it fell onto the grass berm behind the fence in left.
“I knew the left fielder couldn’t find it, so I just kept running,’’ White said. “That was a big swing by Conrad to put us up. I saw quite a few pitches before I got the one I was looking for. Their starter (Ethan Mildren) was on his game early, but I think he started to wear down.’’
The result was Quad-Cities’ second back-to-back jacks of the season — the first consecutive homers came during the eighth inning of a game at Peoria on April 27 — and the four-run, eight-batter inning led the River Bandits to their fourth consecutive win.
“It seems like every game, we’re having an inning or two like that where everybody gets it going,’’ Gregor said. “It’s pretty cool when we get all three areas together, good pitching, good defense and timely hitting.’’
Working behind an error-free defense, Jandel Gustave and Andrew Walter combined to limit the Kernels to eight hits.
The pair struck out nine batters and walked two as Gustave (4-2) earned the win in his third straight start.
“Gustave was a little erratic in the first couple of innings, but as the game went on he worked quicker and seemed to work with more confidence,’’ River Bandits manager Omar Lopez said. “He finished strong, the way we hoped and Walter gave us what we needed. We told him he needed to be ready to finish and he did.’’
Gustave allowed just two singles over his final 4.2 innings of work before Walter picked up his fourth save, limiting Cedar Rapids to one hit over the final 2.1 innings.