Wisconsin’s Mitch Ghelfi made a long week even longer Sunday for the Quad-Cities River Bandits.
Ghelfi’s two-run double in the top of the ninth inning decided a 6-4 game at Modern Woodmen Park and forced Quad-Cities to stomach its sixth straight Midwest League loss.
“I liked the way we fought, the way we came back, but we couldn’t put it away,’’ River Bandits manager Russ Steinhorn said. “We have to find a way to execute better on both sides and we need to find it soon.’’
On the next-to-last day of the regular season and three days before the start of postseason play, the River Bandits didn’t look like a team which a week ago had an overall record 25 games above .500.
Three errors, an inability to get a bunt down in critical situations and a pair of ninth-inning walks which positioned Ghelfi to drive the game-winning hit into left all came back to ultimately bite Quad-Cities.
“Good defense, good pitching, timely hits, that’s been our game all season,’’ Steinhorn said. “We need to get back to having good quality at-bats.’’
Steinhorn saw hints of the energy and execution he has seen throughout the season as the River Bandits answered Timber Rattlers’ runs with a pair of two-run innings.
Ray Henderson drove home three of the runs with a pair of two-out hits, the first a two-run double in the fifth inning which cut into a 3-0 deficit and the second a seventh-inning single that tied the game at 4-4.
“The past couple of games have been a struggle. The energy hasn’t been there, but when we got back in this game, the energy seemed to pick up in the dugout,’’ Henderson said. “A couple hits, a couple of late runs, it got us going. We need to build on that.’’
The late effort followed another sluggish start for Quad-Cities.
Wisconsin starting pitcher Thomas Jankins took a perfect game one out into the fifth inning, but did not factor into the decision after the River Bandits answered a leadoff homer by the Timber Rattlers’ Dallas Carroll in the top of the seventh by scoring twice in the bottom half of the inning.
Henderson’s second hit of the game scored Wander Franco, whose double positioned Abraham Toro-Hernandez to cut into a 4-2 deficit when he scored on a Kristian Trompiz groundout.
Working with a 1-0 lead that Ghelfi delivered with a sacrifice fly in the opening inning, Jankins struck out six and walked one batter in a five-inning start.
He didn’t allow a baserunner until Bryan De La Cruz drove a sharp double to right with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Trompiz reached on a two-out walk before Henderson doubled to left to score both and pull Quad-Cities within 3-2.