PEORIA, IL - The Great Lakes Loons rallied after a rough start to their series-opening game against the Peoria Chiefs, but could not overcome a four-run deficit and fell at Dozer Park, 5-4, losing their third straight game. The Loons had the tying run in scoring position in each of the last three innings but failed to plate it.
Peoria jumped on Loons starter Zachary Bird right from the start, with leadoff batter Vaughn Bryan belting Bird's third pitch of the game deep over the wall in right for his first homer of the season. Later in the frame, Justin Ringo connected for a two-run homer to push the Chiefs lead to 3-0, and Peoria finished the scoring in the inning with a triple and a ground ball that eluded Paul Hoenecke's glove for an error and a four-run edge after the opening stanza.
The Loons scratched out three single runs over a four inning stretch to pull within a run heading into the late innings. In the third, two out hits from Malcolm Holland (double) and Joey Curletta (RBI single) got Great Lakes on the board. Jacob Scavuzzo created a run for his team in the fifth, reaching second on an infield single and ensuing throwing error. Scavuzzo then stole third and when catcher Steve Bean's throw scooted away from the third baseman, he scampered home to make it a 4-2 game.
In the sixth, Paul Hoenecke led off with a double, and the Loons played small ball for their third run. With one out, Brandon Trinkwon popped up a bunt, but it landed behind the mound, making him safe at first and moving Hoenecke to third. The next batter, Webster Rivas, executed a squeeze bunt up the first base line to score Hoenecke and cut the deficit to one run.
Peoria plated an insurance run in the seventh to go back up two, which proved big when Hoenecke launched a moon shot down the right field line that cleared the foul pole and completely left the stadium. The ball was surprisingly called foul initially by the base umpire, but was reversed after a consultation between the umpiring crew and turned into Hoenecke's 13th long ball of the year.
In the ninth, back-to-back two-out walks drawn by Holland and Curletta chased Chiefs closer Zach Loraine, but Steven Sabatino, a tough left-hander, struck out Hoenecke on a full-count pitch to end the game. Peoria starter Luis Perdomo (2-1) picked up the win, working 5 1/3 innings and allowing two earned runs on six hits. Sabatino got the save, his fourth of the year.
Bird (4-12) took the loss, though he bounced back from the rough first inning working three scoreless frames and allowing only one hit and a walk over that span. He left after the fourth, giving way to Kyle Hooper, who pitched two perfect innings. Mark Pope allowed one run on a hit and a walk in his two innings of work.
The Loons and Chiefs match up in a rare Sunday night contest in Peoria. Right-hander Victor Arano (4-4, 4.19) starts for Great Lakes against a highly-touted left-hander for Peoria, Rob Kaminsky (4-2, 1.64). Kaminsky is the ninth-ranked prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals according to Baseball America. First pitch is at 7 p.m., with pre-game radio coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN 100.9 FM.
The Great Lakes Loons are an eighth-year Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For tickets and more information about the Loons, visit Loons.com, or call 989-837-BALL.