Michael Massey started the new week like he ended the old one — with difference-making at-bats for the Quad Cities River Bandits.
He drove home both game-tying and game-winning runs Tuesday as the River Bandits opened a six-game series against Peoria with a 7-3 victory at Modern Woodmen Park.
Massey swatted a two-run home run — his seventh in Quad Cities’ last nine games — to even the game at 2-2 in the fourth and then broke a tie score in the seventh with a run-scoring single to put the River Bandits ahead to stay at 4-3.
"It’s been a fun stretch but it’s really all about being prepared, working with the hitting coaches and coming up with an approach that is going to work against the pitcher you’re facing," Massey said.
"Then when the pitcher puts that pitch in a good spot, you have to make the most of it."
Massey’s work Tuesday followed a week which saw Massey lead the High A Central League with six homers, a .944 slugging percentage and 13 RBIs during a six-game series at Beloit.
"He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now. It’s nothing he hasn’t done before, but what we’re seeing right now is what he’s capable of doing," Quad Cities manager Chris Widger said.
Chiefs starter Michael YaSenka didn’t surrender a hit until Maikel Garcia opened the fourth inning with a single to center.
Massey followed by blasting a powerful shot to right that traveled an estimated 417 feet and tied the game.
The homer was the 15th of the season for the Quad Cities infielder and positioned the River Bandits to take a short-lived lead an inning later.
A two-out single by Garcia in the fifth allowed Will Hancock to push Quad Cities in front, 3-2.
Hancock reached on a leadoff double and advanced on a flyout by Nick Loftin before scoring when Garcia drove a single into left.
The Chiefs tied the game minutes later when Leandro Cedeno opened the sixth inning by depositing an A.J. Block pitch over the fence in left.
Massey broke the 3-3 deadlock in the seventh with a single to center, one of 12 hits Quad Cities collected off of a group of three Peoria pitchers.
His hit scored Loftin, who had reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced on Garcia’s third hit of the game.
A wild pitch scored Garcia and sent the River Bandits into the eighth with a 5-3 lead that Seuly Matias increased with a leadoff home run.
His shot to left was his third homer since coming off of the seven-day injured list six games ago at Beloit.
Loftin followed with a run-scoring double which provided Quad Cities (44-21) with its winning margin in its eighth victory over the last 10 games.
"This team seems to feed off of each other," Widger said. "When one guy gets a hit, another follows and at the end of the day that puts you in a good position."
Block joined Mitch Ellis and Nathan Webb in a strikeout-filled pitching performance for the River Bandits. The three allowed nine hits but combined to strikeout 14 Chiefs in a walk-free effort.
The effort started with the first four Chiefs to face Block opening the game with hits, but he settled down and allowed just three more hits over 5.1 innings of work.
"When they got those four hits early, you wondered how long A.J. was going to be out there, but he stayed with it and before you know it it’s 2-2 and then he’s still out there in the sixth inning working with a lead," Widger said.
"He handled it exactly the way he needed, limited damage early and kept working. Ellis came in and pitched well and then Webb for his first outing, it was like ‘Wow,’ as we saw what he had."