Opportunities weren’t an issue Sunday for the Quad Cities River Bandits.
Capitalizing on those chances, however, proved to be somewhat problematic.
Quad Cities stranded 13 runners on base, including nine in scoring positon, as the River Bandits dropped a 5-4, 10-inning game to South Bend at Modern Woodmen Park.
The loss in the High A Central League finale for both teams sends Quad Cities into a league championship series against Cedar Rapids beginning Tuesday with a 77-41 record.
The River Bandits built that record with a resilient approach to the game that included scoring the tying run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday before being denied a third walk-off win in the six-game series against the Cubs.
“I’m always confident in our ability to score runs, get guys on, move them around, but we just didn’t have the big hit we needed today,’’ Quad Cities manager Chris Widger said.
That was especially the case in a 2-2 game in the sixth and seventh innings.
The River Bandits came away empty in both innings after loading the bases with no outs in the sixth and with one out in the seventh.
“We missed chances in a lot of innings from beginning to end. We just couldn’t get it done,’’ Widger said.
Erasing a 3-2 lead South Bend had taken in the eighth when Edmond Americaan scored on a wild pitch, the River Bandits extended the game in the bottom of the ninth when Rubendy Jaquez scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Jake Means.
Jaquez had opened the inning with a single, a slow-rolling dribbler that hugged the fair side of the foul line before stopping just shy of third base. He put himself in a position to score on Means’ fly ball to left by stealing both second and third.
After a walk and an error loaded the bases in the 10th, the Cubs used sacrifice flies by Yonathan Perlaza and Alexander Canario to open a 5-3 lead.
With Eric Cole on second to open the River Bandits’ half of the inning, Gavin Stupienski nearly tied the game with one swing of the bat but a leaping catch at the wall by Canario in right denied him a home run chance.
Cole advanced on the play and then pulled Quad Cities within the final score on a run-scoring single to left by Parker Bates.
“This team never quits. At the end of the day, all you can ask for is a chance and this team, we’re never out of a game,’’ Bates said. “We showed that again.’’
Bates stole second before potential winning run Will Hancock reached on a two-out walk, but an inning-ended groundout by Tyler Tolbert end the Bandits’ comeback effort.
“The effort has never been a question with this group,’’ Widger said. “We had a lot of good at-bats, put the ball in play, we just didn’t come up that extra run or two along the way.’’
Quad Cities held a 2-0 lead after four innings, with Tolbert singling in the first inning and scoring on a Nathan Eaton double to give the River Bandits an early lead.
A sacrifice fly by Hancock scored Bates in the fourth after he doubled and advanced on a passed ball.
The Cubs used the long ball to even score. Solo home runs by Jake Washer in the fifth and Yohendrick Pinango to open the sixth tied the game at 2-2 two innings before South Bend took its first lead.