Moline’s Matt Brill helped finish off his hometown team Tuesday night at Modern Woodmen Park.
The Kane County reliever pitched two shutout innings — including striking out the side in the eighth — to help the Cougars complete a two-hit, 3-1 victory over the Quad-Cities River Bandits.
Taking the mound in the Quad-Cities for the first time as a professional, Brill opened his second outing of the Midwest League season by walking Cody Bohanek to start the seventh inning.
He worked around an error following a fielder’s choice to get out of the inning then retired the Bandits’ Adrian Tovalin, Jake Adams and Roman Garcia on strikes in the eighth.
“Things were a little shaky at first, but I was able to settle down and throw strikes,’’ Brill said. “I was able to come out and do my job.’’
Brill’s two-inning effort matched the longest of his 20 outings at the pro level since being drafted in the 12th round by Arizona in the 2017 draft and it came during a game which saw four Kane County pitchers combine to strikeout 13 River Bandits.
“Our guys pitched well and I was glad to have a hand in it,’’ Brill said. “It was good, just working with my catcher, one at a time, and it felt good.’’
Quad-Cities missed multiple early opportunities, unable to push a run across after putting runners on first and second in each of the first two innings and loading the bases with one out in what proved to be a scoreless third.
“We just needed a timely something. It didn’t even have to be a hit, just a timely something,’’ River Bandits manager Mickey Storey said. “To leave seven on in the first three innings, that’s tough.’’
By that point, Kane County had gotten to River Bandits starting pitcher J.B. Bukauskas.
The Astros’ first-round selection in the 2017 draft reached a pitch limit with two outs in the top of the fourth inning and exited trailing, 2-0.
Both runs crossed in the top of the third after Stephen Smith reached on a one-out walk and moved into scoring position on a bunt single by Jazz Chisholm.
Luis Silvero followed by slicing a single through the right side of the infield to score Smith and Chisholm doubled the lead when he scored on a fielder’s choice by Yoel Yanqui.
Making his full-season debut, Bukauskas struck out two batters in each of the first three innings and ended up scattering three hits over a 3.2-inning start which included four walks.
“It was kind of a mixed start for J.B. He started off with sharp slider and good fastball, but the pitch count caught up with him,’’ Storey said. “He started falling behind guys and that makes it tough.’’
Cougars starter Jeff Bain struggled with command as well, walking six batters during his 3.2 innings of work and the River Bandits finally capitalized on the last of the free passes.
That came in the fourth inning when Jake Meyers reached on a leadoff walk and advanced to third on an errant pickoff attempt.
Meyers pulled Quad-Cities within 2-1 when he scored on a double-play ball off the bat of Corey Julks.
The Cougars didn’t waste any time regaining a two-run margin.
Chisholm opened the top of the fifth inning with Kane County’s first home run of the season, a shot to right off of River Bandits reliever Carlos Sanabria.
“Our relievers did a good job of holding them down. We couldn’t get anything going on offense,’’ Storey said.