There was no wild celebration Saturday night after the Quad-Cities River Bandits clinched the second half championship in the Midwest League Western Division.
Handshakes and high-fives would suffice following what manager Russ Steinhorn labeled a “masterful pitching performance’’ in a 1-0 shutout of Cedar Rapids at Modern Woodmen Park.
Cristian Javier and Kit Scheetz teamed up to treat a crowd of 6,378 to the River Bandits’ first 1-0 victory of the season, combining to strike out 16 Kernels in the three-hit shutout.
“Both them were throwing all three of their pitches for strikes and were doing a good job of throwing any pitch in any count against a good offensive team,’’ Steinhorn said. “It was an impressive outing.’’
Javier set the tone for the start, recording two strikeouts in each of the five innings he worked, recording a career-high 10 strikeouts while limiting the Kernels to one hit and two baserunners.
“When I struck out the first batter of the game (Cedar Rapids’ Royce Lewis), I felt like I had my stuff, that it was going to be a good night,’’ said Javier, speaking through interpreter and River Bandits strength coach Hazael Wessin.
Javier felt an improved curveball and slider combined to give him a chance to compete.
“My curve was working and in my last couple of outings, my slider was cutting too much. Today, I was able to keep it in the zone,’’ Javier said. “That helped.’’
The River Bandits helped Javier out as well, pushing across the game’s lone run when they bunched together two of their four hits with two outs in the bottom of the second inning.
Wander Franco drove home the game-winning run, scoring Abraham Toro-Hernandez with a single.
Toro-Hernandez had reached on a one-out walk and advanced when Chas McCormick reached on an infield single to third.
Franco followed by dropping a single into center on the second of four hits allowed over six innings by Kernels starter Tyler Wells.
“One two-out RBI was good enough,’’ Steinhorn said. “Sometimes you need one run, sometimes you need 11. Today was one of those days when one run was enough.’’
Scheetz made certain that was the case.
He entered the game in the top of the sixth and struck out the side.
The left hander did allow two hits, but worked around both while striking out six batters over four walk-free innings.
Ben Rortvedt became the only Cedar Rapids batter to move beyond first when he doubled to left against a shift with one out in the eighth.
But, a strike out and an inning-ending groundout that finished an 0-for-4 game for Lewis, the first overall pick in this year’s draft, ended the Kernels’ last threat before Scheetz earned a save by working a 1-2-3 ninth.
“Pitching and defense, they were our game tonight. Scheetz has been solid since he arrived here and Javier has had a good month,’’ Steinhorn said. “It was a playoff-like game against a team we could see in the playoffs. It’s the type of game we need and a good game to win.’’