CEDAR RAPIDS, IA- The Peoria Chiefs earned their first ever four-game sweep in Cedar Rapids and swept a double header for the second day in a row with 4-3 and 5-3 wins on Wednesday night. The sweep gives the Chiefs a five-game winning streak and a 23-15 record heading into a seven-game homestand which begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday night against Wiscosnin.
"Nice to jump out to an early lead in game one against one of the better pitchers in our league and then we preserved the win," said manager Joe Kruzel. "In game two we had our bullpen pitching so it was important to jump out to that five-run lead and then pitch out of some tough situations."
The Chiefs got a run in the top of the first against the fourth overall pick of the 2013 draft Kohl Stewart. C.J. McElroy Jr. struck out to start the game but reached first base on a wild pitch for strike three. Juan Herrera singled and Carson Kelly walked to load the bases with no outs. McElroy came around to score on a double play off the bat of Ronald Castillo for a 1-0 Chiefs lead.
Peoria used an error to add to the lead in the fourth inning. With two outs Jimmy Bosco singled and moved to third on a Jake Stone single. Bosco scored on an error by Kernels second baseman Tanner Vavra to put the Chiefs on top 2-0.
Cedar Rapids tied the game with a two-out rally in the fourth against Jimmy Reed. Michael Quesada's second single of the game brought home Chad Christensen and Joel Licon singled home Mitch Garver to even the game 2-2.
The Chiefs came right back in the fifth against reliever Brandon Bixler. Herrera led off with a double to center and he moved to third on a groundout. With two down, Kenny Peoples-Walls singled to center to score Herrera for a 3-2 Chiefs lead.
The Kernels tied the game in the sixth against reliever Kevin Herget before Jhonny Polanco escaped the jam. Herger gave up two singles and with one out, Licon singled to left to tie the game. Polanco came in with one out and the bases loaded to get a force at home and a strikeout to keep the game tied 3-3.
McElroy started the seventh with a single against Bixler and was sacrificed to second by Herrera. With Kelly batting, McElroy took off for third on a pitch in the first and scored easily as Quesada's throw sailed down the left-field line for a 4-3 Chiefs lead.
Polanco allowed two of the first three Kernels to reach in the seventh and he gave way to Zach Loraine. Bo Altobelli singled to load the bases before Loraine struck out Quesada looking and got Licon to pop out to center to end the game.
Reed allowed two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out three over five innings. Herget allowed one run on three hits and one walk over 1/3 of an inning. Polanco (1-0) earned the win with one shutout inning as he allowed one hit and one walk with two strikeouts. Loraine got the save with one hit allowed and a strikeout in 2/3 of an inning.
"We made some big plays to preserve that win," said Kruzel. "Long day at the ballpark the last two days but to come away from here winning four games is a very good sign."
The Chiefs came out swinging against Derrick Penilla in the first inning of game two. McElroy reached on an infield single, Cesar Valera walked and Herrera made it 1-0 with a single to center. Castillo singled to center to load the bases and two runs scored when Ivory Thomas dropped a flyball off the bat of Peoples-Walls. Steve Bean capped the inning with a two-run single to center for a 5-0 Chiefs lead.
Cedar Rapids got back in the game in the third against Chase Brookshire. The first two Kernels singled before a walk loaded the bases. J.D. Williams reached on an infield single as Licon scored before Ryan Walker struck out. Christensen doubled home two to cut the Chiefs lead to 5-3 but Brookshire got the next two outs to end the inning.
Cedar Rapids threatened in the fourth by loading the bases with one out but newcomer Steve Sabatino struck out Williams and Walker to end the inning. Sabatino got through the next two innings without any trouble and Chris Thomas picked up his team-leading sixth save.
In his first start since April 27, Brookshire allowed three runs on four hits over three innings with one walk and five strikeouts. Sabatino (1-0) earned the win in his 2014 debut with three shutout innings, four hits allowed, one walk and five strikeouts. Thomas struck out two and allowed two hits in one shutout inning for the save.
"Hopefully we can carry this into the seven-game homestand," said Kruzel. "The guys in this clubhouse have battled from the first pitch to the last pitch and fortunately they are resilient and bounced back quickly this week."
Notes: Peoria had never swept a four-game series in Cedar Rapids…They swept a three-game series at Perfect Game Field to end the first half last June…The Chiefs have swept four straight double headers and are 9-1 in seven-inning games this season…The Chiefs have won five straight road games for the first time since April 20-27, 2011…The Chiefs last four-game sweep on the road came in Wisconsin July 1-4, 2008…The Chiefs went 8-2 against the Kernels in the first half as the teams don't play again until June 2…Jake Stone collected his first multi-hit game of the season in the opener…Polanco is the 14th different Chiefs pitcher to earn a win this season and Sabatino is the 15th…Loraine and Thomas both earned a save on back-to-back days…The Chiefs scored five runs in the first inning of game two, the ninth time this season they have scored at least five runs in an inning and the third time on this roadtrip…The Chiefs are home Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to kick off a seven-game home stand and will start RH Silfredo Garcia (2-3, 4.85) against Wisconsin RH Tristan Archer (1-1, 4.30)…Thursday is a Thirsty Thursday presented by Baumgarten Distributing with $1.00 12 ounce domestic draft beers and fountain sodas…Thursday is also One-Hit Wonder Night…The broadcast can be heard, starting with the Pre-Game Show at 6:10 p.m., 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.