The Peoria Chiefs scored four runs in the top of the first inning and battled through a rain-filled game to beat the Lake County Captains 9-6 Monday night. The Chiefs have now won three straight games and move to 6-4 on the season while the Captains, who committed seven errors, fall to 4-7.
"It is always nice to get an early lead on the road and get the starting pitcher a lead before he even throws a pitch," said Chiefs manager Joe Kruzel. "We got two big blows from Castillo and Katz to get those quick early runs which is a good feeling and especially in these conditions."
The Chiefs jumped all over Captains lefty Luis Lugo in the top of the first inning. C.J. McElroy Jr. led off with a single to left-center and moved to second as Carson Kelly drew a one-out walk. Ronald Castillo kept swinging a hot bat with a RBI double to left-center as McElroy scored for the 1-0 lead. Matthew Young drew the second walk of the inning and with two outs, Mason Katz cleared the bases with a line-drive double off the wall in right-center for a 4-0 Peoria lead.
With the rain again falling, 19-year-old Alex Reyes struck out two in the bottom of the first, including top-ten Indians prospect Dorssys Paulino. The only Captains base runner in the first reached on an error by Castillo in right-field but after the inning the game went into a rain delay.
After a 27-minute delay the Chiefs added an unearned run in the top of the second against Lugo. McElroy singled with one out and was out at second base on a Juan Herrera fielders' choice. Herrera was safe at second and credited with a stolen base on a bad throw during a pickoff play. He came around to score on an error by Paulino at shortstop to put the Chiefs on top 5-0.
Lake County got on the board in the bottom of the second against Reyes. Anthony Santander led off with a walk and moved to third on a single by Nellie Rodriguez. Josh McAdams was credited with a RBI single that hit off the glove of Kenny Peoples-Walls in left as Santander scored. Reyes got a double-play ball and struck out Paulino to end the inning with the Chiefs up 5-1.
The Chiefs added a run in the fourth against reliever Robbie Aviles. McElroy reached second on a bunt single and a throwing error and scored on a groundout by Castillo for the 6-1 lead. Kevin Herget took over for Reyes in the bottom of the inning with the rain pouring down. Cesar Valera's error with one out allowed Cody Ferrell to reach and Claudio Bautista singled with two outs. Eric Haase drew a walk and Grant Fink clobbered a grand slam into the left-field berm to cut the Chiefs lead to 6-5.
Zach Loraine got the Chiefs out of trouble in the seventh by striking out Bryan Ruiz with two on to end the inning. Peoria tacked on three runs in the eighth against Wander Beras. Valera beat out an infield single to third and McElroy was hit by a pitch. Herrera laid down a sacrifice bunt and Valera scored as Fink's throw to first sailed into right field for the Captains eighth error of the game. Kelly's sacrifice fly scored McElroy and Herrera scored on a wild pitch for a 9-5 Chiefs lead. Lake County scored the final run of the game on a Haase solo home run with one out in the ninth.
"Loraine had been sitting around a while and he came in and did a great job of relief and got us out of that situation," said Kruzel. "We were fortunate to get the late runs and get some help from their defense for the cushion. Zach's been very effective for us early in the season."
Reyes allowed one run on two hits over three innings in the no-decision. He walked five and struck out five while pitching around the rain delay. Herget (1-0) allowed four unearned runs on two hits and three walks while striking out four over 3 2/3 innings. Loraine struck out three and allowed one run in 2 1/3 innings while earning his second save of the season.
Notes: The game started at 8:00 p.m. local time after a 92 minute rain delay…The game was delayed again after the first inning for 27 minutes…Peoples-Walls singled in the third to extend his hit streak to five games…The grand slam was the first allowed by the Chiefs this season and the first hit for the Captains in nine at-bats with the bags full in 2014…Paulino committed four of Lake County's eight errors and was originally charged with five before a post-game scoring decision credited Matthew Young with a fourth-inning single…The MWL record for errors in one game by a shortstop is six, set by Juan Joa in 1966…The sac bunt by Herrera was the first of the season for the Chiefs…Herrera leads Peoria with four stolen bases…Castillo leads the Chiefs with 12 RBI while Katz has 11…The Chiefs are just 12-25 on the road against Eastern Division teams since the start of the 2011 season…The Chiefs are 4-3 all-time at Classic Park…The three-game series is scheduled to continue Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. Central time though forecasts call for 29 degrees and 2-3 inches of snow…The Chiefs are slated to start $1 hot dogs, $1 ice cream sandwiches and $1 sodas plus a free ticket to a future Monday-Wednesday game if the Chiefs lose to a future M-W game!$1 hot dogs, $1 ice cream sandwiches and $1 sodas plus a free ticket to a future Monday-Wednesday game if the Chiefs lose to a future M-W ga..RHP Nick Petree (0-0, 0.00) against Captains RHP Dace Kime (0-2, 17.00)…The broadcast can be heard, starting with the Pre-Game Show at 5:10 p.m. Central Time, on www.peoriachiefs.com/listenlive which also has downloads for a free app on the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android. The broadcast is also available on the Peoria Chiefs Network in the Tune-In Radio App.