BELOIT, Wis. – Rio Ruiz, Teoscar Hernandez and Carlos Correa ensured that victory for Quad-Cities in the deciding game of the Midwest League Western Division Championship Series was as easy as 1-2-3.
Each belted home runs as part of a power surge which carried the River Bandits to a 9-5 victory over Beloit on Monday at Pohlman Field, sending Quad-Cities to the Midwest League Championships for the second time in three seasons.
The River Bandits matched a season high with 17 hits, including four doubles and two triples in nine in addition to the three homers which came during the game’s first three innings and led Quad-Cities to a 5-0 lead which went untouched as Daniel Minor recorded his second straight six-inning start on the mound.
“This team is capable of doing whatever it believes it can do,’’ Quad-Cities manager Omar Lopez said.
The River Bandits will face South Bend in the Midwest League Championship series, playing the first two games of the best-of-five series on the road against the Eastern Division champions beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The league champion will be crowned in Davenport, where the third and, if necessary, fourth and fifth games of the Midwest League finals will be played beginning on Saturday.
After losing for the first time in four postseason games on Sunday, Quad-Cities came out swinging on Monday.
Tony Kemp opened the game with a double to center that provided just a hint of what was to come.
In the second inning, Ruiz followed a leadoff single by Bobby Borchering with a two-run blast to center field off of Snappers starter Derek De Young.
An inning later, De Young served up line-drive homers to left to Hernandez and Correa to open the inning and saw his start end when Danry Vasquez reached on a walk.
Vasquez would come around to score on a double steal which gave Minor a five-run lead to work with.
The right-hander watched a solo homer by Beloit’s Sam Roberts cut into the lead in the bottom of the third, one of few mistakes Minor made while scattering six hits and matching a season high with six strikeouts during a walk-free start.
By the time Minor’s outing ended, Quad-Cities (85-58) had opened a 9-2 advantage, pushing runs across in every inning from the second through the sixth en route to its 14th victory in its last 17 games.
Seven River Bandits built multi-hit games on a collection of four Beloit pitchers, led by three-hit performances from Borchering and Jordan Scott.
After Roberts pushed Beloit’s first run across, a run-scoring groundout by Correa in the fourth, a two-out RBI double by Scott in the fifth preceded back-to-back doubles by Brett Vertigan and Nick Rickles which cut the River Bandits’ lead to 7-2.
Quad-Cities answered with its final two runs in the sixth, when Correa drove a triple to right to score Hernandez and Vasquez followed with an RBI single.
Replacing Minor on the mound, Juan Minaya worked a 1-2-3 seventh before a bases-loaded walk following three straight singles to open the eighth brought Mitchell Lambson in to close out a game which saw River Bandits pitchers combine to strike out eight while walking one batter.