Kane County experienced a power surge Thursday night at Modern Woodmen Park.
The Cougars clubbed three home runs and quieted the Quad-Cities River Bandits 5-1 behind the power of Sam McWilliams’ fastball.
The 6-foot-7 right hander riddled the River Bandits as he worked five shutout innings for the second time in as many starts this season.
McWilliams struck out eight batters and allowed only one baserunner, surrendering a second-inning single to Quad-Cities’ Alex De Goti, before exiting with 4-0 lead.
“He was 94, 95 all night, pitched both sides of the of the plate well,’’ River Bandits manager Russ Steinhorn said. “Seeing him after seeing the guy at Peoria (Jordan Hicks on Wednesday), I think we’ve seen two of the better arms around. This guy was pretty advanced.’’
McWilliams (2-0) set a tone and found himself working with a lead before he ever stepped on the mound.
The Cougars’ Marcus Williams opened the game with a home run off of Dustin Hunt, one inning before Manny Jefferson cracked a two-run homer which extended the Kane County lead to 3-0.
Kyle Smith collected a solo homer in the ninth after Quad-Cities had cut into a 4-0 lead with its only run of the night.
“They hit our mistakes, that’s for sure,’’ Steinhorn said. “Good hitters do that.’’
The River Bandits attempted to rally once McWilliams’ day was done.
Reliever Carson LaRue limited the Cougars (6-2) to two hits over the final five innings, giving Quad-Cities a chance when it loaded the bases to open the eighth inning.
Back-to-back singles by Jake Rogers and Taylor Jones followed by a walk to Randy Cesar prompted a call to the bullpen where Tommy Eveld struck out pinch hitter Ronnie Dawson, allowed Rogers to score on a Daz Cameron sacrifice fly and struck out Steven Wrenn.
Evald finished off a 16-strikeout performance by a collection of four Cougars pitchers by striking out three batters in the final inning after issuing a pair of two-out walks.
“LaRue did a great job. He gave us a chance, kept us in it, and we kept competing,’’ Steinhorn said. “It was a tough night at the plate, but we did compete until the end. We battled and If we continue to compete like that, eventually that will give us a chance to win.’’
The loss was the fifth of the season in eight games for Quad-Cities, which has four one-run setbacks on its early-season record.