Kevin Rivers blasted a two-run home run down the right-field line to bring Clinton to within two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, but right-hander Yohan Gonzalez and the Peoria Chiefs held on to defeat the LumberKings 8-6 on Monday night in Midwest League baseball at Alliant Energy Field.
Things got even more interesting after Rivers’ homer when Stefen Romero singled to bring the tying run to the plate, but Gonzalez retired Mickey Wiswall, Kalian Sams and Jake Schlander to end the game.
The LumberKings had a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth inning, thanks to a game-tying sacrifice fly by Rivers in the first inning and a solo home run by Wiswall into the right-field Lumber Lounge in the second. However, the offense dried up from there on against right-hander Starling Peralta (2-3), who allowed two runs over five innings.
Spot starter Jessie Nava surrendered three runs in the top of the fourth as Peoria took the lead.
Micah Gibbs singled to open the fourth and scored on a triple by Brandon May. Ben Klafczynski put the Chiefs ahead to stay with an RBI single to left that scored May. That hit knocked Nava (1-4) out of the game. Left-hander Ryan Kiel allowed an inherited runner to score as Taiwan Easterling doubled off the outstretched glove of center-fielder Julio Morban to score Klafczynski. A wild pitch then scored Easterling to give Peoria a 5-2 lead.
Richard Jones lifted a towering two-run homer over the 401 sign in right-center to raise the Chiefs’ advantage to 7-2 in the sixth.
The LumberKings still stood a chance against a shaky Peoria bullpen and defense. An error by third baseman Dustin Geiger sent Sams home to cut the deficit to 7-3 in the sixth, and Morban drew a walk from right-hander Robinson Lopez and scored on Wiswall single to make it a 7-4 game in the seventh.
With the LumberKings down 8-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Morban smashed a double down the right-field line. Rivers then delivered the home run inside the right-field foul pole, his ninth of the year. Romero reached on an infield single to second-baseman Rubi Silva but was held at first base as Wiswall lined out to a diving Klafczynski in left. Sams popped up to Gonzalez along the first-base line, and Schlander watched a called strike three to end the game.
The LumberKings (19-17) remained two games behind first-place Kane County and two games ahead of Beloit for third place and the West Division wild-card playoff spot. They head to Wisconsin to take on the Timber Rattlers (13-22) for a four-game series beginning at 7:05 tonight at Time Warner Cable Field. Right-hander George Mieses (4-10, 5.02 ERA) gets the start for Clinton against Wisconsin right-hander Jimmy Nelson (5-7, 4.30).
Clinton made a pair of roster moves Monday.
Matt Browning was placed on the disabled list, and left-handed pitcher Nate Reed was promoted to High-A High Desert. First baseman Tim Morris returned to Clinton from High Desert, and left-handed pitcher Roenis Elias was promoted from Pulaski of the rookie-level Appalachian League.
Elias was 1-0 with 0.82 ERA in three games for Pulaski. He allowed 11 hits and three walks in 11 innings while striking out eight batters.