Peoria, IL – The Peoria Chiefs rallied from a two-run deficit to win on a walk-off hit by Thomas Spitz in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Burlington Bees 4-3 to take the first series of the season. The Chiefs are now 2-1 and host a 3-game series with Quad Cities beginning Monday night at 6:30.
The Chiefs struck early courtesy of Eli Alvarez’s first home run of the season in the bottom of the first to give Peoria a 1-0 lead. The Chiefs kept the lead until the top of the fourth when a fielding error by Edmundo Sosa and a walk placed two runners aboard. Bees catcher Tanner Lubach launched a 3-run home run to left centerfield off Chiefs starter Ryan Helsley.
Trailing 3-1, the Chiefs got a run in the sixth against Burlington reliever Cody Pope. Sosa doubled to right and RJ Dennard drew a one-out walk. Ryan McCarvel doubled to right-center as Sosa scored to cut the Bees lead to 3-2. Pope retired the next two batters as the Chiefs left runners at second and third.
The Chiefs finally got even in the seventh inning against Pope. Craig Aikin started the inning with a double and moved to third on a sac bunt by Spitz. A sac fly by Alvarez tied the game and neither team scored in the eighth.
Burlington closer Adam Hofacket started the ninth by retiring Chiefs catcher Jose Godoy. Leobaldo Pina lifted a fly ball to center that turned into a double as Burlington center fielder Zach Welz fell down on the wet grass. Aikin singled to left moving Pina to third and Spitz lined the first pitch he saw into deep left field scoring Sosa for the win.
Helsley pitched 5 2/3 innings surrendering three unearned runs on two hits, two strikeouts and he walked three. The Chiefs bullpen stepped in and held the Bees scoreless the remainder of the game. Chandler Hawkins pitched 1 1/3 innings before giving way to Luke Harrison (1-0), who picked up his first win in relief, pitching two perfect innings with two strikeouts.
Notes: Dennard has hit safely in all three games and has four doubles which leads the Midwest League after the first weekend of play…The Chiefs didn’t have a walk-off win last season until June 13 when Vaughn Bryan’s single beat South Bend in the 16th inning…The Chiefs have already played two 1-run games this season, winning one and losing one…The last time the Chiefs swept an opponent in a two-game series at Dozer Park was July 6-7, 2015, also against Burlington…The Chiefs start a new series Monday against the Houston Astros affiliated Quad Cities River Bandits who are off to a 0-4 start this season…The series begins at 6:30 p.m. as the Chiefs send RH Junior Fernandez to the mound against Bandits RH Kevin McKanna…The broadcast can be heard, starting with the Pre-Game Show at 6:15 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.