Geneva, IL– Paul Balestrieri shut down the Kane County Cougars on his way to a no-hitter in the 8-0 win for the Peoria Chiefs on Thursday night in the series finale. The first-place Chiefs improved to 34-26 overall as they clinched the series against the Cougars.
The Chiefs right-hander allowed just one base runner all night, a two-base error at first base with two outs in the bottom of the first inning. From there he retired the next 25 batters with six strikeouts and no walks. He finished off the no-hitter in style with back-to-back strikeouts with his 100th pitch of the night retiring Cougars leadoff man Gabriel Maciel. The Chiefs celebrated by mobbing Balestrieri (2-2) on the mound as most of the 8,083 Cougars fans cheered for the opposition in a standing ovation.
Scott Hurst wasted no time to put the Chiefs on the board first against Cougars pitcher Brian Shaffer in the top of the first inning. Hurst pulled a leadoff solo homer down the right field line as the Chiefs jumped out to an early 1-0 lead.
Peoria added on in the top of the third and it started with a leadoff single to left by Irving Lopez. Yariel Gonzalez drew a one-out walk to put two runners on. With two outs, Angel Moreno scored Lopez on a single and advanced to second on the throw home. Nick Plummer drove in Gonzalez and Moreno with a double to put the Chiefs up 4-0.
As Balestrieri cruised on the mound, the Chiefs widened the margin in the top of the seventh on reliever Cole Bartlett. Elehuris Montero led off with a walk and Gonzalez singled to right to put runners at the corners. A ground ball to third kept Montero from scoring as Dennis Ortega reached base on a fielder’s choice to second. Moreno was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Plummer punched a two-run single to center to score Montero and Ortega for a 6-0 advantage.
The longball helped tack on two more runs for the Chiefs in the top of the ninth. Ortega singled with two outs and Moreno blasted a two-run homer to left as Peoria controlled the game 8-0.
Notes… Balestrieri threw the 10th no-hitter in franchise history and 4th as a solo pitcher in nine innings…The Chiefs last solo no-hitter was thrown by Austin Kirk on July 4, 2011…The last no-hitter was July 23, 2015 with Jaime Garcia, Steve Sabatino and Cody Schumacher combining…Balestrieri threw a career-high nine innings and is the first Chiefs player to throw nine innings this season… The Chiefs last complete game shutout was thrown by Mike O’Reilly on July 10, 2017 at Cedar Rapids…Plummer ties his career high with four RBI…The Chiefs have shut out teams three times this season…Every Chiefs player in the batter order reached base…Moreno his first homer as a member of the Cardinals organization…Gonzalez recorded his 15th multi-hit game of the season…Martinez recorded his seventh multi-hit game of the season…Peoria is 24-8 when scoring five runs or more… The Chiefs begin a seven game homestand with a four game series against Quad Cities at 7:00 p.m. on Friday… The Chiefs will start RH Johan Oviedo (1-5, 6.47) against Quad Cities LH Parker Mushinski (2-0, 1.90)…The game features an appearance by Cardinals mascot Fredbird and Dueling Pianos with post-game Fireworks…The broadcast can be heard, starting with the Pre-Game Show at 6:45 p.m. on www.peoriachiefs.com/listenlive and is also available on the Peoria Chiefs Network on the Tune-In Radio App.