At the end of the day, the Quad-Cities River Bandits had plenty of reasons to celebrate Sunday.
The River Bandits overcame a 5-0 deficit midway through the second inning to rally for a 9-6 Midwest League win over Cedar Rapids at Modern Woodmen Park, a win which assures Quad-Cities that it won’t have to share the second-half title in the Western Division with anybody.
A three-run home run by Chuckie Robinson followed by a solo shot from Abraham Toro-Hernandez in the third inning ignited the River Bandits comeback.
“The first two, three innings, the momentum was all toward them. We threw the ball around a bit. We just didn’t start off good, but we came back,’’ Robinson said.
“That’s what we’ve been doing all year. It speaks volumes about our team, one through nine, we can swing it well and our pitching staff, they held on, kept us in it.’’
Quad-Cities moved ahead to stay two innings later, tying the game on a Chas McCormick single and then moving ahead 6-5 on a single by Luis Payano.
Ray Henderson capped the three-run fifth with a sacrifice fly and when Cedar Rapids pulled within 7-6 in the top of the sixth, Daz Cameron and Toro-Hernandez answered with run-scoring singles in the bottom half of the inning to open the River Bandits’ three-run winning margin.
“I’m up there trying to put the ball in play, get a good pitch that I could put a good barrel on and keep us going, keep putting runs up,’’ Cameron said. “It was a win we needed to get.’’
It was a rally which led to an impromptu postgame celebration that included a couple of on-field champagne showers for players and a jug of water being dumped on manager Russ Steinhorn.
“These guys earned this and I’m glad we had a chance to celebrate this little milestone at home with our fans,’’ Steinhorn said following the loss which ended any hopes Cedar Rapids or Peoria had of sharing the second-half title with Quad-Cities.
The Kernels made the River Bandits earn it, using five hits and making the most of three walks to grab a quick five-run lead midway through the second inning.
“Things didn’t look good early, but the offensive guys did a good job of picking the pitchers up, just like the pitchers picked us (Saturday) night when the offense was hard to come by,’’ Steinhorn said. “That shows signs of a lot of unity within the team. That’s been big for us all year.’’
Robinson senses that as well.
“We have an ability to keep things on an even keel, just keep playing the game and that’s something everybody has bought into since day one,’’ Robinson said. “If you keep playing the game, things will work out.’’
That proved to be the case following a rough two-inning start by Yohan Ramirez.
“Ramirez was pounding the zone, but (the Kernels) were swinging the bats well early. Sometimes, that’s the way the game works,’’ Robinson said. “But, you have to keep competing.’’
Salvador Montano quieted the Kernels offense. He limited Cedar Rapids to a pair of singles over three innings, earning his eighth win in 11 decisions by striking out Shane Carrier to leave the bases loaded in the fifth.
Carlos Sanabria pitched the final four innings, stranding runners in scoring position in each to preserve the victory.
“Montano came in and held them at five and that was big for us, it gave us a chance,’’ Steinhorn said. “With the way they scored so early, we still had eight (innings) to get back in it. That’s the way it worked.’’