Peoria, IL – The Peoria Chiefs found themselves trailing by two runs headed into the bottom of the ninth inning but rallied for three runs in the final frame to beat the visiting Kane County Cougars 8-7 at O’Brien Field on Friday evening. The win is the fourth in a row by the Chiefs to bring them to 4-5 in the second half and 34-43 overall.
Trailing 7-5 entering the bottom of the ninth, the Chiefs put together one more rally against Kane County reliever Justin Friend. Brandon Guyer started the inning with a smash single past the third basemen. Cliff Andersen singled back up the box with Guyer running on the play to give the Chiefs runners at the corners with no outs. A sacrifice bunt by Elvis Lara moved Andersen to second, and a wild pitch from Friend scored Guyer to make it 7-6. Down to their final strike, Samson blooped a base hit into right field to tie the game 7-7. Marquez Smith hit a ground ball that looked like it would send the game into extra innings, but the third baseman Justin Frash’s throw got away from first baseman Greg Dowling. Samson, who was running on the play, scored the winning run all the way from first base to give the Chiefs an 8-7 win.
The Chiefs offense picked up right where they left off at the end of the road trip in the first inning against Kane County starter Jamie Richmond. Jonathan Wyatt lined an opposite field single to left to start the frame. Samson followed with a perfectly executed hit-and-run that gave the Chiefs two runners in scoring position with no outs. During Marquez Smith’s at-bat, Richmond fired a wild pitch to the backstop that allowed Wyatt to score from third to make it 1-0. Josh Donaldson grounded out to third, but Samson scored to give the Chiefs a 2-0 advantage.
Kane County answered back in the second inning against Peoria starter Robert Hernandez. After retiring the leadoff man, Hernandez surrendered a solo home run beyond the berm in left-center to Jake Smith to cut the Chiefs lead to 2-1. Hernandez gave up a double to Todd Johnson before striking out Shane Keough looking to end the inning.
Peoria got back on the board in an adventurous third inning. With one out Samson hit his second home run of the season that just cleared the wall in left field to extend the Chiefs lead to 3-1. Kane County manager Aaron Nieckula protested the call and was ejected from the game by home plate umpire Justin Sassman. Marquez Smith was the next batter to the plate and was drilled in the arm by a pitch from Richmond that caused both benches to empty but only words were exchanged.
The Cougars got on the board via the long ball again, this time in the fourth inning against Hernandez. Larry Cobb hit a home run to start the inning into the berm in left field to make it a 3-2 game. The next batter, Corey Brown, homered to the Pepsi Picnic Plaza in right-field to tie the contest 3-3.
Kane County homered for the fourth time on the night in the fifth, again off Hernandez. Matt Ray led the inning off with a base hit, and Adam Klein followed with a two-run blast to right-field to put the Cougars in front 5-3. Justin Frash followed with a double into the left field corner to chase Hernandez from the game. Chris Siegfried came out of the bullpen and gave up a double to Cobb that scored Frash to make it a 6-3 Cougars lead. Jake Smith drove in a run with a sacrifice fly that allowed Cobb to score and extend Kane County’s advantage to 7-3.
It was the Chiefs use of the home run ball in the fifth inning to climb back into the game. Lara reached on an infield single to start the inning and quickly stole second base to get into scoring position. Wyatt hit a no-doubt two-run shot off Richmond beyond the Pepsi Picnic Plaza in right field to pull the Chiefs to within 7-5.
Hernandez worked four innings and did not retire a batter in the fifth. He allowed six runs on eight hits, including four home runs. He struck out a pair and did not walk a batter. Siegfried allowed one run in 1 1/3 of work while striking out one and did not issue a walk. Jon Mueller pitched a scoreless inning out of the bullpen while allowing one hit and striking out a pair. Steve Vento worked two scoreless frames to pick up the win in relief for the Chiefs.
Players of the Game – Nate Samson (SS)- Samson finished the night 4-for-5 including his second home run of the season and scored the game winning run in the bottom of the ninth. The four-hit performance was the second by a Chiefs player this season.
Notes…The first two hitters in the Chiefs line up (Wyatt and Samson) were a combined 7-for-10 with two home runs, five runs scored and four RBI…Tonight marked the 15th come from behind win by the Chiefs this season…The walk off win was the five this season for the Chiefs…Peoria scored two runs in the first inning for the second straight game…The four home runs allowed by Hernandez brings his career total to 16, which moves him into 10th all-time in Chiefs history…The Chiefs pitching staff has allowed a league-high 61 home runs this season…In the last 22 innings Chiefs starting pitchers have walked only three batters…Samson’s home run was the second of his career and first since hitting a walk-off homer against West Michigan on April 16…Peoria has homered 27 times at O’Brien Field this year and 51 times overall which is third best in the league…Over the last 10 days, Luis Bautista is hitting 10-for-31 with five home runs and nine RBI… The two teams will continue their four-game series on Saturday evening at 6:30…Following the contest will be the first of two fireworks shows on the homestand…Saturday night’s spectacular fireworks show will be presented by Heart Technologies…Prior to the fireworks there will be another Pitch-In for Charity presented by Aquatech Pool and Spa and Little Caesar’s Pizza, tennis balls can be purchased for $1 during the game with all proceeds benefitting Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois…Peoria will send RH Audy Santana (0-4, 3.72) to the mound against RH Tyson Ross (0-0, 0.00) for Kane County