Peoria Chiefs Notebook: 2015 Week 22

The wild card Chiefs enter the Midwest League playoffs with red-hot Nick Thompson leading the offense.

The Peoria Chiefs ended the regular season a bit shaky with a 3-4 record as they received some fierce competition from their last few opponents, including their first-round matchup, the Kane County Cougars.

9/1/15: Peoria Chiefs 5 vs. Cedar Rapids Kernels 4

September started off with a bang as the Chiefs climbed back and walked-off thanks to a big evening from Nick Thompson.

Thompson drove in the first run with his 12th home run of the year in the bottom of the second to cut it to a 2-1 deficit. Brian O’Keefe’s sacrifice fly later in the third inning knotted it back up at two.

After falling behind at 4-2, the Chiefs fought back with two in the bottom of the eighth. Brian O’Keefe scored on a Luis Cruz groundout and Nick Thompson came in to score the tying run after a wild pitch.

The Chiefs completed the comeback thanks to Thompson who delivered a two-out RBI single to send the fans home happy.

Ian McKinney ran into a bit of trouble in his first two innings, but settled down to finish with three runs on six hits, two walk and three strikeouts in six innings of work. Nick Lomascolo threw one inning with one run on two hits and a strikeout. Sasha Kuebel earned his first win as a Chief with two innings of shutout ball and three strikeouts.

9/2/15: Peoria Chiefs 6 vs. Burlington Bees 8 (F/10)

Paul DeJong tied the game up not once but twice in the series opener. However, it wasn’t enough as Peoria fell through in extras.

Chasing a 4-2 lead, DeJong’s swing in the bottom of the seventh changed things to knot it up at four. He wasn’t finished just yet.

The 22-year-old third baseman knocked another two-run shot that snuck over the wall in right near the foul pole to tie it up once again.

However, the wheels fell off in the top of the tenth as Burlington had back-to-back RBI doubles to take the lead and hang onto it for good.

Dewin Perez had a shaky start with four runs on six hits and five walks over 4 2/3 innings. Tyler Bray tossed 2 1/3 shutout innings, Steve Sabatino gave up two runs, one earned, in 2/3 innings, and Jery Then went 1 1/3 innings with a shutout outing.

Nick Frey took the loss with two runs on three hits in the extra frame.

9/3/15: Peoria Chiefs 5 vs. Burlington Bees 3

Jack Flaherty pitched the Chiefs to a win and Harrsion Bader did the heavy lifting for the offense. Flaherty went 6 2/3 innings with three runs on seven hits and also seven strikeouts to earn his ninth win of the season.

The bats got it going early with a two-run Bader bomb in the bottom of the first.

After Burlington tied it up in the third, Peoria took the lead for good via a Steve Bean double in the fourth. Bean came in to score from a wild pitch to make it 4-2 Chiefs. Nick Thompson tacked on the fifth run in the fifth inning to pad the lead.

Nick Lomascolo earned the hold with a shutout 1 1/3 innings with three K’s, and Kyle Grana went lights out in the ninth to earn his 23rd save.

9/4/15: Peoria Chiefs 1 vs. Burlington Bees 3

Landon Beck remained winless in another game that also lacked some offensive spark in the series finale.

Beck went five innings with three runs on four hits, five strikeouts, and a home run. Sasha Keubel, Steve Sabatino, and Jery Then combined for four innings with no runs on two hits, six strikeouts, and one walk.

The offense only amounted to one run - from a Steve Bean RBI double in the top of the second. While matching Burlington with six hits, the Chiefs went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.

9/5/15: Peoria Chiefs 1 @ Kane County Cougars 2 (F/10)

It was a battle all the way to the end, but late fielding errors got the best of Peoria in extra innings in the opener of the final series of the regular season.

Harrison Bader kicked it off in the top of the first with an RBI single that scored Darren Seferina. However, Kane County came right back in their bottom half to tie the game with a sacrifice fly.

The game remained at a 1-1 tie until the bitter end for Peoria in the tenth. After a leadoff walk for Kane County, a bunt turned into a much wilder play than expected. Luis Cruz’s throw to first went awry and Bader also threw it away, which resulted in a heartbreaking loss.

Matt Pearce went 7 1/3 innings with one unearned run with five hits and seven strikeouts. Nick Frey went 1 2/3 innings and was dealt with the tough loss with an unearned run on two hits.

9/6/15: Peoria Chiefs 2 @ Kane County Cougars 3

The Cougars pounced to an early lead and didn’t let go as Peoria dropped another one on the road.

Ian McKinney went 5 2/3 innings with three runs, two earned, and four strikeouts, to be dealt with his first loss with the Chiefs.

The Chiefs clawed at the 3-0 lead with single runs in the seventh and the eighth from Nick Thompson and Darren Seferina but it was to no avail.

Steve Sabatino went 1 1/3 shutout innings and Kyle Grana threw a scoreless eighth inning out of the bullpen.

9/7/15: Peoria Chiefs 6 @ Kane County Cougars 5

The Chiefs ended the regular season on a high note, but it was a roller coaster ride until the very end.

Harrison Bader led the charge with his two-run homer in the top of the second, part of four runs that Peoria plated in the first three innings.

Fast-forward to the bottom of the ninth as a 6-1 lead suddenly shrunk to 6-5. Jery Then gave up four runs on three hits and got the boot after going just 1/3 of an inning.

Kyle Grana shakily got his 24th save of the year to cap off a great second half for the Peoria Chiefs.

Starter Dewin Perez went six shutout innings with two hits, no walks, and a strikeout.

Who’s Hot

Nick Thompson – Thompson’s bat is creating a massive spark for the Peoria offense. He boasted a .307 batting average this week with a homer and five RBI. The 2014 eight-rounder also reached base safely in each game this past week.

Paul DeJong – Clutch hitting goes a long way in the playoffs and DeJong has proven he can be that dependable player in the late going. The third baseman’s two-homers on September 2 tied the game up on two separate occasions with the second coming in the bottom of the ninth.

Kyle Grana – The Chiefs closer continues his scoreless streak, as he has not allowed an earned run since August 14. Grana converted both save opportunities and also contributed a shutout inning in a non-save situation this week.

Who’s Not

Brian O’Keefe – The 22-year-old catcher hit a little cold streak once the calendar month changed over. O’Keefe’s batting average has dipped from .324 to .280 over the course of six games as he only collected two hits throughout the week.

Derek Gibson – The outfielder is having some difficulty at the plate as he finished off the week with three hits in 18 at-bats, an average of .167.

Josh Swirchak – The 2015 Cardinal signee made a huge leap this summer after being called up to Peoria after his short stints with Johnson City and State College. However, the numbers are just not showing, as the 22-year-old is only hitting at .200 with five hits in 25 at-bats. All five of his hits were singles.

Awards

Austin Gomber was awarded with St. Louis Cardinals organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Month after his stellar August with his 4-0 record and a 0.35 ERA while striking out 32 batters through 25 2/3 innings.

Transactions

9/5/15: LHP Nick Lomascolo assigned to Palm Beach Cardinals from Peoria Chiefs.
9/5/15: Peoria Chiefs activated RHP Dixon Llorens from the 7-day disabled list.

While the Chiefs lose their long-reliever Lomascolo, adding Llorens back into the bunch of the bullpen is a nice consolation to Lomascolo’s call-up.

What’s Next

After a six-year drought, the Peoria Chiefs will start their playoff run tomorrow evening at Dozer Park for Game 1 against the Kane County Cougars with the first pitch scheduled for 6:30 CT. The Game 1 starting pitchers have yet to be released from either team. The Chiefs will host Game 1 and travel to Kane County for Game 2 and an if-necessary Game 3.



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