First spot in the order or ninth, Ronnie Dawson is delivering for the Quad-Cities River Bandits and he’s getting plenty of help.
Dawson recorded his seventh consecutive multi-hit game and scored three runs Friday as Quad-Cities finished off a three-game sweep of Burlington with an 11-4 rout of the Bees in front of a crowd of 5,539 at Modern Woodmen Park.
“It’s all about making the most of every at-bat, both for myself and the team,’’ Dawson said. “We’re trying to make the most of each opportunity we get. It doesn’t make a difference where I am in the order, just keep the same approach, keep working.’’
River Bandits manager Russ Steinhorn said the early work Dawson is putting into his game is making a difference in a batting average which has risen to .280.
“It’s the work that he’s putting in behind the scenes that has helped him put it all together,’’ Steinhorn said. “Our guys are doing a good job of putting together quality at-bats and a lot of it has to do with the way they continue to work to get better.’’
That work paid dividends for Midwest League Western Division-leading Quad-Cities, which collected eight runs batted in from the top four spots in its lineup.
The River Bandits scored runs in each of the first two innings but broke the game open by collecting six of its 11 hits in the fifth and sixth innings.
Luis Payano at the bottom of the Quad-Cities batting order and Dawson at the top accounted for four of those hits, driving in three runs to help break open a 2-0 game.
Dawson extended his team season-best hitting streak to 13 games when he followed a single by Payano with a double to left in the fifth inning. He then scored on a single by Chuckie Robinson to extend the River Bandits’ advantage to 4-0.
In the sixth, Osvaldo Duarte and Ray Henderson reached on one-out walks to spark a five-run inning. Payano and Dawson followed with run-scoring singles in an inning that included a two-run double by Abraham Toro-Hernandez.
“When the guys before you get on, get things going, you have to make it happen when you get a chance,’’ Dawson said. “It’s fun playing the game the way we are right now.’’
Chas McCormick finished off the River Bandits’ scoring an inning later, driving home Josh Rojas and Henderson with a pinch-hit triple to left.
Burlington mustered just one hit – an infield single by Jonah Todd with one out in the first inning – before John Schuknecht led off the Bees’ four-run eighth inning with a double to left.
River Bandits starter Gabriel Valdez, coming off of the disabled list, worked two innings as planned before reliever Yohan Ramirez held Burlington hitless over four innings.
Reliever Carlos Sanabria worked a 1-2-3 seventh before Schuknecht’s double opened an eighth, positioning Franklin Navarro to end the shutout with a double.
“It was good to get Valdez back, get him going again and Ramirez came out and threw four good innings,’’ Steinhorn said. “All the way around, offense, pitching, it was a good night. The number of good at-bats from start to finish was impressive. We came ready to play and even when we got a lead, we didn’t let up. That’s what we like to see.’’