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Eleven-Inning Marathon Goes Peoria’s Way

Bizarre contest capped off by walk-off sacrifice fly
April 17, 2022

This game had everything. Extra innings? Of course. Pitch clock violations? You know it. Two ejections, a seven-minute inning break, and a truck driving onto the field? … what? After all was said and done Saturday, the Peoria Chiefs picked up their fourth win in a row over the Great

This game had everything.

Extra innings? Of course. Pitch clock violations? You know it. Two ejections, a seven-minute inning break, and a truck driving onto the field?

… what?

After all was said and done Saturday, the Peoria Chiefs picked up their fourth win in a row over the Great Lakes Loons, 6-5 in 11 innings at Dozer Park in Peoria, Ill.

With the game tied at two and the 10th inning over, a truck drove onto the playing surface at Dozer Park. The Chiefs scheduled a fireworks show for after the game, and the truck carrying the fireworks made its way through the centerfield gate and onto the field, seemingly unaware that the contest had stretched into the 11th inning. For a moment, it seemed as though the driver was unable to put the truck in reverse and get it off the field, but eventually it left and play resumed.

That preceded the first true rally of the night for the Great Lakes Loons (2-6). Ismael Alcantara began the 11th as the runner on second base, per the rule that debuted in Minor League Baseball last summer. After Eddys Leonard and Leonel Valera both walked, the bases were loaded with nobody out for Zac Ching, who had a walk-off hit last Saturday to bring the Loons their first win. Ching had more heroics in him, as he broke the tie with a two-run double to put Great Lakes ahead, 4-2. Aldrich De Jongh walked to load the bases, and Jorbit Vivas was hit by a pitch to drive in the final run for the Loons. Leonardo Taveras (W, 1-0) came in for Peoria to record the final out in the inning. Great Lakes stranded the bases loaded, but went to the bottom of the eleventh with a 5-2 lead.

The Chiefs (5-3) had plenty of fight in them, though, and they didn’t even need a hit to score four runs in their final inning. Matt Chamberlain was the runner placed on second, and Noah Mendlinger led off the inning with a walk. Tommy Jew reached on an error to load the bases. Loons lefty Andrew Shaps (L, 0-1) then issued two straight bases-loaded walks, then a hit batsman, and the game was suddenly tied at five. Carlos Alejo came in, and threw just one pitch to Aaron Antonini, who smacked a sacrifice fly to center field to win it for Peoria, 6-5.

The 10th inning was full of oddities as well. Between the end of the ninth inning and the start of the 10th, seven minutes passed with no pitch clock violations, as Peoria made myriad defensive changes. The Loons went down in order in the top of the frame, and came out ready in the bottom half. Antonini, who was inserted into the game in the top half at catcher, made it into the box to begin the home half of the frame to meet his pitch clock obligations. After the first pitch, though, he stepped out of the box and took time to adjust his batting gloves and add hitter’s grip spray to his wood bat. Loons manager Austin Chubb, possibly still upset about the delay before the top of the frame, took exception to the time Antonini was allowed to take despite the newly-enforced pitch clock rules and was ejected from the game. Loons righty Jordan Leasure went on to strike out Antonini and another batter en route to a perfect 10th inning, setting up for the eventful eleventh.

The first of two ejections in the contest came in the top of the eighth inning. Alcantara drew a leadoff walk and stood on first with one out and Valera at the plate. Alcantara took off for second on a pitch that ended up getting by the Peoria catcher, and the Loons baserunner slid into second without a throw. Despite no call being made, let alone a controversial call, Chiefs’ center fielder Mike Antico was ejected immediately following the play.

The Loons and Chiefs combined for seven runs in the 11th inning, but scored just four in the previous ten innings combined–until extras, it was a classic pitcher’s duel. Great Lakes pitching held Peoria scoreless in seven straight innings, and struck out a total of 19 Chiefs throughout the game. Right-handed starter Nick Nastrini struck out six in his 2 2-3 innings of work and walked none, surrendering a pair of earned runs on three hits. Loons southpaw Lael Lockhart followed that up with 3 2-3 innings of scoreless ball, allowing five hits and a base on balls while racking up four strikeouts. Cole Duensing and Leasure covered the last portion of the scoreless innings, each striking out four batters while allowing a combined one hit in a total of 3 2-3 frames.

Great Lakes, as it has every game of the young season, scored first in this contest. De Jongh led off the third inning with a triple, and Jonny Deluca picked up his 11th RBI of the year with a groundout to put the Loons up 1-0.

Peoria, the St. Louis Cardinals affiliate, struck back immediately in their half of the frame. Mendlinger singled to begin the frame and stole second base. After a pair of strikeouts, the Chiefs got back-to-back two-out run-scoring doubles from Mack Chambers and Jacob Buchberger, to lead 2-1 after the third.

Great Lakes, partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, got its equalizing run in the seventh inning, when Vivas walked with the bases loaded, scoring Kekai Rios and tying the game at two, where the score would remain until the final inning.

Peoria clinches the series win before the final game of the six-game set Sunday at Dozer Park. Great Lakes right-handed pitcher Gavin Stone is scheduled to make his second start of the year, up against fellow righty Austin Love for the home side, as the Loons try to snap an early-season four-game losing streak. First pitch is at 2:35 p.m. Eastern, and coverage begins on ESPN 100.9-FM at 2:20 p.m. with the Loons On-Deck Circle, driven by Garber Chevrolet Midland.

The Great Lakes Loons have been a Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers since the team’s inception in 2007. Dow Diamond serves as the team’s home and also houses the Michigan Baseball Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, and ESPN 100.9-FM. For tickets or information about the Loons, call 989-837-BALL or visit