PEORIA, IL- A three-run top of the ninth inning sent the Peoria Chiefs to their second straight loss in the three-game series against the Lansing Lugnuts, dropping a 3-2 decision on Thursday night. The Chiefs are 17-15 in the second half and 54-47 overall.
The Chiefs got on the board in the first inning against Lugnuts starter Chase De Jong. Vaughn Bryan led off with a double and got to third on CJ McElroy's bunt single. Justin Ringo popped to short, McElroy was thrown out trying to steal second and Ronald Castillo walked. Rowan Wick lined a single to right to score Bryan for a 1-0 Chiefs lead.
Peoria scored again in the second inning. Cesar Valera was hit by a pitch and Michael Schulze forced Valera at second. Bryan laced a triple in the right-center field gap to plate Schulze for a 2-0 advantage.
The Lugnuts were unable to solve Chiefs starter Chase Brookshire, who scattered seven hits through seven-plus innings, all singles. Brookshire left the game in the eighth with a runner at first and Steve Sabatino induced a ground-ball double play, started very nicely by Richy Perdroza at second base. It was the third twin-killing turned by the Chiefs defense. Brookshire also worked out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth by getting a weak ground out to third with the runner forced out at the plate and his second double play of the game. Brookshire started the first double play in the second inning.
Lansing scored all three of their runs in the ninth against Sabatino. Mitch Nay singled between two strikeouts and David Harris walked. Dickie Joe Thon singled to bring home Nay and Josh Lucas replaced Sabatino. With runners at second and third and two outs, Justin Atkinson hit a slow grounder to short and Valera bounced the throw to first allowing both runners to score to give Lansing a 3-2 lead.
The Chiefs had a chance to tie or win the game in the bottom of the ninth but left runners at second and third. Valera singled with one out and Schulze singled with two outs to send Valera to third. Schulze stole second to put both runners in scoring position, but Bryan struck out swinging to end the game.
Brookshire pitched seven scoreless innings on seven hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Sabatino (5-2) tossed 1 2/3 innings allowing three runs (one earned) on two hits with a walk and two strikeouts in getting the loss. Lucas got the final out of the ninth after allowing a hit that scored two inherited runners.
Notes: Brookshire matched his season and career-high with seven innings pitched…Bryan fell a home run shy of hitting for the cycle…Bryan had three hits for the first time since May 27…The first two batters in the lineup of Bryan and McElroy had five of the Chiefs nine hits…McElroy stole his 26th base which puts him one behind team-leader Juan Herrera who is on the disabled list…Valera played in his first Chiefs game since May 14 when he was injured and sent to Palm Beach upon his activation…The Chiefs have 15 blown saves…The Chiefs lost their third game when leading entering the ninth inning…The Chiefs have lost three straight one-run games…The Chiefs are 1-7 in their last eight games…The three-game series concludes Friday at 7:00 p.m….RHP Blake McKnight (5-7, 4.15) takes the mound for the Chiefs against RHP Brad Allen (3-3, 4.01) for the Lugnuts…It's a Flat Screen Friday presented by Xfinity…The first 1,000 fans will receive a limited edition Dozer Park snow globe…There will be a postgame fireworks display…We will celebrate Christmas in July with photo opportunities with Santa…There will be an ugly sweater contest with the winner receiving a $100 gift card from Macy's…Any fan who brings in a new toy of $10 or more will receive a club box seat ticket for $5…All toys will benefit the Salvation Army Toy Shop…The broadcast can be heard, starting with the Pre-Game Show at 6:40 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.