A home run in the bottom of the ninth tied the score, but the Chiefs couldn't add on and they lost the first game of the best-of-three series to the Cedar Rapids Kernels, 6-4 in ten innings.
Starter Austin Biebens-Dirkx got the honor of starting game one after having been dominating down the stretch after getting signed out of the independent leagues mid-season. Tonight he allowed four runs in a game for the first time since July 22. Biebens-Dirkx fell behind early when he allowed a solo home run in the second inning. The Kernels added solo tallies in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to make the score 4-1 going into the bottom of the sixth. Biebens-Dirkx was not helped by his defense, as errors by shortstop DJ LeMahieu and first baseman Rebel Ridling led to runs in the fourth and fifth innings, although only one of those two runs was unearned. Biebens-Dirkx final line was six innings pitched and four runs, three earned on seven hits. He walked two and struck out one.
But after the Chiefs fell behind 4-1, they began a comeback. A single and a stolen base by center fielder Jose Valdez in the sixth inning led to a 4-2 deficit going into the bottom of the ninth. Then, Kyler Burke led off with a single and after he was exchanged on the basepaths by a fielder's choice by LeMahieu, DH Jovan Rosa tied the game with a two-run home run. Third baseman Junior Lake would double with two outs in the ninth and steal third, but pinch hitter Mario Mercedes couldn't get him home.
Rosa was 3 for 4 with three RBI tonight. Lake was 3 for 4 with two doubles. Valdez and Burke were 1 for 4.
But unfortunately reliever Kevin Kreier, who had been perfect in the top of the ninth, was anything but in the top of the tenth. His wildness did him in as he allowed the first batter to reach on a strikeout/wild pitch and then after a double, he threw another wild pitch to allow the go-ahead run to score. Kreier allowed one more run on an RBI single before finishing out the inning. Kreier went two innings and allowed two runs on two hits. He struck out three and didn't walk anyone, but the two wild pitches did him in.
The Chiefs actually had a chance in the bottom of the inning as Valdez led off with a walk and second baseman Ryan Flaherty singled to put two on with nobody out. But after Ridling hit into a double play and Burke flied out to left, the Chiefs found themselves on the brink of elimination.
The Chiefs now go to Cedar Rapids where they will have to win the next two games to avoid going home for the winter. They play at 6:35 central time tomorrow.