COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. — The Quad Cities River Bandits scored in bunches Friday night to remain on a roll.
The local Class A Midwest League baseball team plated a pair of runs in three separate innings to erase an early deficit and beat the West Michigan Whitecaps, 6-2 in the rubber match of a three-game set at Fifth Third Ballpark.
The Bandits took two of three games in the series to win their 18th series of the season. A second straight road win also pushed QC to 12-8 in the second half, 55-31 overall.
Bandits starting pitcher R.J. Freure was off to a tremendous start before a couple of miscues behind him led to two West Michigan runs in the third.
The right-hander struck out six of the first eight batters he faced before a pop up off the bat of Wenceel Perez was dropped by third baseman David Hensley.
Hensley picked up the ball and tried to throw it across the diamond to get Perez off of first, but that throw hit the runner and caromed into foul territory, allowing him to advance to second base. Sam McMillan followed with an RBI single to give West Michigan a 1-0 lead. The lead grew to 2-0 on an ensuing single from Andre Lipcius.
It took a while to get going, but the Bandits eventually tied the game against the Whitecaps (8-13, 29-61) and their starter Chance Kirby.
Hensley opened the fifth inning with a sharp single into left field and was joined on base by Jonathan Lacroix who worked a free pass. Another single by Alex Holderbach loaded the bases with one down. Carlos Machado capitalized by lining a two-run single right back up the middle to even the score at 2-2.
In the next frame, the Bandits grabbed the lead for good. With one out, Cesar Salazar was hit by a pitch and Hensley followed with his second single of the night. Trey Dawson then gave the Bandits a 3-2 lead and chased the starter from the game with his run-scoring base knock.
With reliever Angel Reyes on the hill, Holderbach came up with a two-out base hit that extended the lead to 4-2.
That same score remained into the final inning when the Bandits scored again. A single from Holderbach, a double by Machado and an intentional walk of Grae Kessinger loaded the bases with one out. Oscar Campos made that decision pay by lining a two-run double in the right center gap to increase the margin to 6-2.
Holderbach finished the night 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Machado and Campos each collected two runs batted in. Hensley also tallied two hits in the contest.
McMillan and Lipcius, the top two hitters in the Whitecaps lineup, collected two hits and drove in one run each.
Freure earned the win by tossing 5 innings and allowing two runs, one earned. He struck out seven and avoided issuing a walk for the first time in his 15 appearances this season.
Matt Ruppenthal shut down the night with 4 scoreless innings to earn his second save.
The Bandits continue their road trip to the Eastern Division by heading to South Bend, Ind. for the first contest in a three-game series tonight.