DAVENPORT — The Quad Cities River Bandits and the 2,292 on hand Monday night at Modern Woodmen Park may have gotten their last look at top pitching prospect Mark Appel.|
With the likelihood of Appel continuing his move up the ladder in the Houston Astros' organization following his sixth start in a River Bandits' uniform, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers gave the No. 1 draft pick a less-than-ideal Quad Cities sendoff.
The Timber Rattlers roughed up Appel for seven earned runs on nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings of work, sending them on the way to a 9-1 victory and their second win in the three-game series with their Western Division rivals.
"You know, I've just got to throw this away and go out and compete the next time," said Appel, who, along with QC manager Omar Lopez, was not quite sure whether or not that next time would be with the Bandits or with another team.
"We don't know yet," Lopez said of any potential moves involving the former Stanford University standout. "I haven't gotten any information on that yet."
As for where his next start will be, Appel is taking that in stride, along with playing the waiting game of whether or not he will return to the mound in a Bandit uniform.
"I'm just taking it day by day," he stated. "Whatever they want to do is fine with me."
While Appel (1-1) had a hard time of it Monday, his Wisconsin counterpart Austin Ross was turning in one of his best outings of the season. Ross took a no-hitter into the bottom of the sixth, his only blemish to that point being a two-out, fourth-inning walk to Carlos Correa.
Austin Elkins ended Ross's no-hit bid with a one-out single in the sixth, and Ross exited two outs later, allowing just the one hit and one walk with four strikeouts to earn his first win with Wisconsin this season.
QC did manage a run off reliever and former Chillicothe IVC standout Chris Razo, with Elkins (2-for-3) delivering an eighth-inning RBI double.
The Bandits remain a game-and-a-half behind Western Division leader Cedar Rapids in the second-half pennant chase, but 5.5 games ahead of nearest-pursuer Peoria for the third-and-final playoff spot.
"This is the first time we've played 22 days in a row," said Lopez, whose 30-19 club (68-50 overall) is off today. "We're hoping to recharge our batteries. We've got to finish strong and keep on playing hard."
Appel set the side down in order in the first two innings, but Wisconsin (22-28; 51-64 overall) broke the ice with a pair of third-inning runs. That set the stage for the Rattlers' fourth-inning explosion, which saw them plate five runs to open up a 7-0 cushion as Tyrone Taylor's one-out, two-run double ended the Bandit starter's evening earlier than hoped.
"I think I left my fastball up a bit, and they started sitting on it and reacting to my off-speed stuff," said Appel. "I'm still working with 'Berto' (QC catcher Roberto Pena) on pitch selection and location. You always want to work on keeping the ball down in the zone; baseball is the same at any level. This is a reminder to keep working hard and keep the ball down."
Extra bases: The Bandits took two out of three games in their first two series against Wisconsin, but dropped two of three in the clubs' previous set (May 22-24) before dropping this most recent series of games, allowing their most runs since June 12 and their most hits since July 27.... The Bandits have six more series remaining in the regular season, three at home and three on the road, but none are against Peoria.
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