Tuesday night was $1 hot dog night at Oldsmobile Park as the Peoria Chiefs and the Lansing Lugnuts opened their three-game Midwest League series.
Peoria’s DH Josh Harrison started off a fine personal night by singling to lead off the top of the first. One out later, he was erased on the front end of a 5-4-3 DP started by Rebel Ridling. Fortunately, Reb’s night got better. More on that later.
Righthander Aaron Shafer took the hill for the Chiefs and retired the first two Lugnuts before giving up an infield single and then a long home run to the Lug’s cleanup hitter, Yohermyn Chavez. The Lugnuts led 2-0 after one.
The Chiefs immediately tied the score at 2 in the top of the 2nd. Kyler Burke and Junior Lake singled and came home on a long two out single by Ryan Flaherty. Ryan stumbled a bit coming out of the batter’s box, but should have ended up at second instead of only first. An interesting note: all three outs in the inning were infield foul pop-ups. (PF2, PF3 and PF5)
The Lugnuts pushed across another run in their half of the 2nd when Lansing’s Jon Del Campo hit the first of two booming triples. Chief’s center fielder Drew Rundle got turned around as Del Campo’s ball hit the base of the wall in dead center. Del Campo came in on a sacrifice fly to put the Lugnuts up 3-2.
With 2 outs in the 4th, Del Campo hit his second triple of the night despite a great face plant at the wall by Rundle as he tried desperately to catch up with the drive. Peoria’s Shafer then uncorked a wild pitch that eluded catcher Michael Brenly allowing Del Campo to score the Lugnuts 4th run.
Lansing made it 5-2 in the 5th when Tyler Pastornicky doubled with two outs and came home on an infield single by Mark Sobolewski.
The Chiefs closed to within one run by scoring single tallies in the 7th and 8th. Rebel Ridling’s 7th inning sacrifice fly brought home Michael Brenly to make it 5-3 and Josh Vitters hit a solo homer to lead off the 8th.
Lansing tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th when Sobolewski scored (again with two outs) off Chief’s pitcher Mike Perconte to make it 6-4 Lugnuts.
Lansing’s closer Mike Barbara came on to finish the game. He would have been better off staying in the Lugnut bullpen.
Harrison reached base for the fourth time when Lansing’s first baseman Mike McDade booted his leadoff grounder in the top of the 9th. Rundle followed with a sharp single to right and then Rebel Ridling hit a three run homer down the line in left. Or so most everyone thought. The ball was hit so hard and bounced back onto the field off a portion of the left field wall so quickly that initially the home plate umpire gave no “home run” hand signal. The entire Chiefs team was standing up in front of their dugout pointing down the left field line and calling for a homer as Harrison and Rundle circled the bases- Rundle even drew a throw as he slid in safely at the plate.
Chief’s manager Marty Revey came down the line from his third base coaches’ box and asked the plate umpire to consult with the umpire at second. The consult was short and sweet: Home Run! The Chiefs led 7-6.
Chief’s closer Erik Hamren had a better night than his counterpart. Despite a lead off infield single and stolen base by Lugnuts’ right fielder Markus Brisker, Hamren retired the next three batters, ending the game with a called strike three on Sobolewski.
Even with the nice weather (sunny and 68 at game time with a slight SSE wind), the paid attendance was only 1437, with at least half of those fans appearing to be empty chairs.
Josh Harrison was 3-5 with two doubles and a run scored; Drew Rundle went 2-4 with a walk and a run scored (and defensively was involved in nine plays, either as putouts or in fielding Lugnut hits); Rebel Ridling was 1-4 with a HR, Sac fly, run scored and four RBIs; Josh Vitters went 2-5 with an HR and a stolen base.
Others of note for the Chiefs were Junior Lake with two hits and a run scored, Ryan Flaherty with a single and two RBIs and Michael Brenly with a single and run scored.
Aaron Shafer went 6 innings giving up 5 runs on 6 hits, getting hit HARD at times. Mike Perconte went 2 innings giving up one run and got the win. Erik Hamren pitched 1 inning and got the save.
Final Score: Peoria 7, Lansing 6; with three, $1 hot dogs being enjoyed by yours truly- hence the original headline.