Peoria, IL – The Peoria Chiefs finished the first half as the Western Division Champions with a 2-1 win over the Burlington Bees Sunday afternoon and a loss by the Clinton LumberKings. The Chiefs finish the first half at 40-30 and will have home field advantage in a playoff series for the first time since 2006.
Neither team scored over the first six innings. Chiefs starter Junior Fernandez had two on base against him in both the second and fifth innings but did not allow a run. The Chiefs put a runner in scoring position against Luis Pena in the second. Chris Chinea doubled to right but was left at second base after a flyout to shallow left and two strikeouts.
The Bees broke through against reliever Nick Frey in the top of the seventh. Ranyelmy Alberto reached on a single to left and he was sacrificed to second base. Alberto moved to third on a grounder and scored on a single by Webster Rivas for a 1-0 Bees lead.
Peoria immediately tied the game against Burlington reliever Tyler Watson. Eli Alvarez singled with one out and he scored on a two-out double to the center field wall by Jose Godoy. With the game tied 1-1, RJ Dennard walked but Thomas Spitz flew out to deep left to end the inning.
The Chiefs grabbed the lead with a two-out rally in the eighth. Watson hit Magneuris Sierra with a pitch and Sosa reached on an infield single. Alvarez delivered a flare into left-center to bring home Sierra for a 2-1 Chiefs lead. Frey retired the Bees in order in the ninth to end the game.
Fernandez threw six shutout innings as he allowed three hits, walked two and struck out four in a no-decision. Frey (2-2) earned the win with three innings in which he allowed one run on one hit and he struck out two.
Notes…The Chiefs had not won a division title since the second half in 2009…While the Chiefs won their final four games, Clinton went 2-3 in Kane County allowing the Chiefs to retake the top spot in the standings…The Chiefs got their first four-game sweep at home since May 12-15, 2012 also against Burlington…The Chiefs have won seven straight home games, the longest streak since the Chiefs won nine in a row July 22-August 7, 2015…The Chiefs went 9-2 against the Bees in the first half with a 6-0 mark at home…Fernandez is tied for second on the Chiefs with seven quality starts…Chiefs starters had 34 quality starts in 70 games in the first half…Sandy Alcantara leads the MWL with 83 strikeouts at the break…Magneuris Sierra leads the MWL with 276 at-bats while Edmundo Sosa is second at 267…Ryan Helsley is third with a 2.77 ERA and tied for third with seven wins…Steven De La Cruz is tied for the MWL lead with 24 games pitched…. The Chiefs are off for three days for the Midwest League All-Star break…The All-Star Game is Tuesday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa…The Chiefs will have seven players at the All-Star Game…The second half starts Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in Burlington.