Behind 7 excellent innings from Greg Billo and two early runs, the Kane County Cougars edged the Quad Cities River Bandits 2-1 on Sunday night in the opener of a three-game series at Elfstrom Stadium.
The Cougars improved to 7-3 in the second half and 2-2 on their six-game homestand.
Billo (6-1) entered the game ranked third in the Midwest League in ERA at 1.64 and lowered it to 1.49, and he was given early support.
Brian Fletcher doubled home Brett Eibner in the bottom of the first against Zach Russell (4-7), and Travis Jones singled, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on an error in the second to make it 2-0. The Cougars' offense totaled just 3 hits, but the early scoring was enough.
Billo's only run was unearned coming in the top of the seventh, and he scattered 6 hits with 1 walk and 6 strikeouts.
It was his third quality start in seven tries, and the 11th time in 16 total appearances in which he gave up 1 or no earned runs.
Chas Byrne pitched the final 2 innings and induced a game-ending double play in the ninth to post his sixth save.
Bandits 7, Diamonds 4:
Making her first start a memorable one, rookie pitcher Donna Bourgeois helped the Bandits top the NPF Diamonds. Bourgeois picked up her first career win and clinched a four-game sweep for the Bandits.
Bourgeois started off a little slow against the Diamonds lineup. She led off walking Kristin Schnake and a sacrifice bunt by GiOnna DiSalvatore which left the Diamonds positioned for their first run. The rookie would work out of the jam, striking out Angeline Quiocho to end the inning.
The Bandits struck first when Rachel Folden laced a Rhiannon Kliesing pitch over the center-field wall for an early 1-0 lead.
With a basehit by Jamee Juarez and a walk by Caitlin Lever, Shannon Doepking set down a sacrifice bunt to begin the Bandits' second inning. Tammy Williams hit a 2-run triple to make it 3-0.
Two batters later, Megan Wiggins knocked in Williams with a double to left-center. Amber Patton added an RBI single.