116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s about a sure thing that the Quad Cities River Bandits will be one of the two teams that will qualify for the High-A Central League championship series.
The clubs with the best winning percentages, regardless of division, will play a best-of-5 set in September for the newly named, or unnamed, league formerly known as the Midwest League.
Quad Cities has a gaudy 52-25 record, which leads the league by a stout nine games over Western Division mate Cedar Rapids and Great Lakes of the Eastern Division. That margin increased Tuesday over C.R. following the Bandits’ 8-3 victory at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The thing is, QC will have some say about its title series opponent. That’s because the River Bandits and Kernels will meet 11 more times in the final 41 games of the regular season, all of those games in Cedar Rapids.
That includes games the next five days, 6:35 Wednesday night. Great Lakes pulled into a tie with C.R. for second place in the league with a win Tuesday night.
Bottom line is the Kernels (44-35) will have to beat the best to meet the best again in the postseason. They are 3-10 against Quad Cities so far.
“They’ve got a good ball team,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “They hit well, they pitch well. They put the ball in play. They are a tough team to play against. So, yeah, we’ll have to play some good games, try to get some wins against if we’re going to make the playoffs.”
Quad Cities leads the Central in most offensive categories, the reasons for that on display in this game. Cedar Rapids took an early 2-0 lead, but QC got a run back in the fourth and went ahead for good with a four-run sixth.
John Rave had a triple with the bases loaded and scored on an ensuing double by Maikel Garcia. Rave had three hits and drove in five in the game.
Quad Cities, which has a five-game win streak, continues to mash despite the recent promotion by the parent Kansas City Royals of first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino to Double-A. Pasquantino is still ranked top five in most major individual offensive categories in the league.
It’s a club that grinds through at-bats, a good quality.
Starting pitcher Jon Olsen (1-4) took the loss. The Kernels are coming off a road series against Wisconsin in which they won four of six games.
They have been playing solid baseball. But they’re going to need to play a little better than solid the rest of the week.
“We thought we played pretty well at Wisconsin,” Dinkelman said. “The pitching staff did well again. We had a tough game on Saturday, gave up some runs, but other than that, we were in every game, had an extra-inning win. We thought it was a good road trip. Anytime you can take four games on the road, it’s always a good series.”
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