All the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers needed to leave Quad-Cities snake bit on Sunday was two swings of the bat.
River Bandits pitchers Francis Martes, Jose Rivera and Devin Conn crafted a two hitter, but that wasn’t enough to prevent Quad-Cities from dropping a 3-2 Midwest League game at Modern Woodmen Park.
The game was the sixth straight decided by one run for the River Bandits, who have lost five of those games including three consecutive heading into the final day of the regular season.
“We’re right there and that’s the tough part, it’s not like we’re getting beat 8-0 or 10-2,’’ said Zach Biermann, who cut into in a 3-0 deficit with a towering home run to right to spark a two-run fifth inning Sunday.
“We just have to come out and keep working to have good at-bats, make good contact and eventually, we’ll start to hit the way we know we’re capable of hitting.’’
Manager Ray Hernandez believes Quad-Cities is a better-hitting team than it has showed in recent games.
“We haven’t had a lot of luck lately, a lineout double play in the first, that type of thing, and we just have to keep at it,’’ Hernandez said. “We hit some balls hard, (Trey) Dawson took one to the fence. Biermann got ahold of a couple. The at-bats, they’re there, and eventually the hits will come.’’
The River Bandits had five of them Sunday, including three off of Wisconsin starter Justin Jarvis.
The fifth-round pick of the Brewers in 2018 earned his first win since July 17 by striking out five batters over six innings.
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Biermann ended Jarvis’ shutout hopes, clubbing a leadoff homer into the Mississippi River beyond the fence in right to open the fifth.
Dawson followed by reaching on a walk, stealing second, advancing on a Carlos Machado groundout and scoring on a groundout by AJ Lee to cut the Timber Rattlers’ margin to one run.
“I was able to put together a couple of good at-bats and that felt good,’’ said Biermann, who also sent a ball to the warning track in right in the sixth, “but at the end of the day, it’s about how the team does and we didn’t get it done today.’’
Quad-Cities didn’t advance a runner past first base in any of the last four innings, allowing Wisconsin to maintain a lead it took on the first pitch of the game.
Je’Von Ward opened the game with a homer to right off of Martes, a pitcher on the Astros’ 2017 World Series championship team who joined Quad-Cities on Sunday and was limited to 60 pitches in his final outing of the season as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery one year ago.
Martes, who had two abbreviated appearances in the Gulf Coast League before joining the River Bandits, struck out six batters over 2.2 innings, giving up just the one hit while walking three.
“It was something he can build on heading into next year,’’ Hernandez said. “This was one of the steps for him to get back to where he expects to be and it a good outing for him, something he should be proud of as he continues to work.’’
Beyond Ward’s second home run of the season, the only other hit the Timber Rattlers mustered was a two-run single by Yeison Coca in the third that followed a pair of two-out walks and proved to be the difference in the game.
In addition to Biermann’s leadoff blast, the River Bandits put the leadoff batter on base in just two other innings.
C.J. Stubbs opened the bottom of the first with a double and led off the bottom of the eighth by beating out an infield single, hits that were negated by the two double plays turned by the Timber Rattlers.
“Tough outs,’’ Hernandez said. “One break here or there would have made a big difference.’’