When a win was there for the taking, the sharks showed up Wednesday night at Modern Woodmen Park.
Quad Cities relievers John McMillon and Anderson Paulino finished off the River Bandits’ eighth consecutive Midwest League victory, a 4-3 win over Beloit.
"Those guys in the bullpen, they were like sharks in the water. They weren’t letting this one get away," Quad Cities manager Brooks Conrad said.
The River Bandits overcame a 3-0 deficit to add to a string of victories that is now the longest for Quad Cities since a nine-game streak by the Astros-affiliated River Bandits in 2019.
Wednesday’s win was unique as Quad Cities pushed across single runs in four innings as pitchers from both teams dominated.
Mason Barnett allowed two hits – both in the second inning – of a five-inning start for the River Bandits before McMillon and Paulino each worked two innings of one-hit shutout relief, never allowing more than one runner on base in the four-hit win.
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McMillon earned his second win in as many decisions for Quad Cities while Paulino finished off his sixth save in as many opportunities by working a 1-2-3 ninth.
"McMillon has just been electric so far for us and Paulino, when you look at where he was last year and where he is at now I’m so happy for that him. He’s come a long way," Conrad said.
The River Bandits secured the win in the bottom of the seventh on a two-out single to center by Paxton Wallace.
His base hit scored Gavin Cross, who had reached on a leadoff walk and stole second before advancing as Juan Carlos Negret reached on one of the Sky Carp’s six errors.
"Their pitchers didn’t give us much of an opportunity to make much out of a lot of them and that’s a credit to some pretty good arms we saw," Conrad said, acknowledging how Quad Cities was limited to five hits and single runs in the second, fifth and sixth innings to forge a tie.
River Town rounded the bases with one swing of the bat to collect the first two although the first was far from conventional.
Town drove a two-out double into the right field corner, but a throw from Osiris Johnson sailed into left field, sending Town toward an undefended third base and when a relay throw from Tanner Allen in left skied beyond home plate, Town raced home easily.
"It was like one of those little league homers at the end of a game where you just keep running and running," Conrad said.
Town pulled the River Bandits within a run in the fifth, depositing his second home run of the season over the fence in right to open the inning.
Quad Cities tied the game an inning later when Jack Pineda led off with a double, advanced with Javier Vaz reached on a throwing error and scored as Cayden Wallace hit into a double play.
"We did a good job of getting ourselves back in it," Conrad said. "Hit some balls hard again, had a couple of timely hits that gave us a chance to come from behind."
The River Bandits needed to rally after a pair of two-out walks led to three runs for the Sky Carp in the top of the second.
The walks were the only ones allowed by Barnett and they were followed by the only two hits he allowed over five innings.
"To see him come back and put those zeros up over the final three innings was great to see," Conrad said. "That's a guy who wants the ball, wants to keep going, a real competitor."