The game of baseball provides daily breaks and bounces that make the game impossible to predict. The Peoria Chiefs know all about that, and it's only the beginning of May.
Peoria had good fortunes on its side in a 4-3 victory over Kane County on Thursday night.
The Chiefs trailed 3-1 in the seventh inning when they caught a break. On a ground ball, Cougars' shortstop Orlando Calixte threw the ball into right field, negating what would have been a potential inning-ending double play. Then, Kane County rightfielder Jorge Bonifacio retrieved the ball and threw it over the catcher's head in a play at the plate.
The very next batter for Peoria, Marco Hernandez, hit a single to left field, scoring Yaniel Cabezas from third base, giving the Chiefs their first lead of the game.
"Sometimes, you need a break to go your way," Chiefs manager Casey Kopitzke said. "That's what we got today, obviously. We did some things to make them make a play and we got a break."
Kane County put runners at first and third base in the bottom of the ninth inning, with just one out on the board. However, Peoria closer Jeffery Lorick retired Lane Adams on a strike out.
One out away from a win, Orlando Calixte drilled a sharp line drive to third base. Wes Darvill, in his first season at the hot corner, scooped the ball and made a strong throw to first base, securing a win.
"That was huge," Kopitzke said. "It's not as easy as it looks. You get jammed and it probably had a funny spin on it. Coming to get it, knowing the guys running, the game's on the line, there's a lot of pressure on that throw."
Jose Rosario was shaky in his start, allowing 10 hits in 5.2 innings, but held Kane County to three total runs, just one of those was earned. He did not factor in the decision.
Austin Reed stepped in during the sixth inning, striking out Justin Trapp to end the inning. Kane County left two runners in scoring position.
"They were able to get a lot of baserunners on today," said Reed. "They had 14 hits; we were able to keep them to three runs. Our defense did a great job; our pitchers did a great job of throwing strikes and getting outs."
Reed surrendered just two hits in two addition innings of work, earning his first win of the season. Lorick was awarded the save, while dropping his season ERA to 0.79.
The Chiefs and Cougars return to Fifth Third Bank Ballpark on Friday evening for the rubber match of the three-game series. Kyler Burke takes the hill for Peoria.