Peoria, Il – For the first time since 2006 the Peoria Chiefs have clinched a playoff spot in the first half of the season after an 8-3 win Saturday night over the Burlington Bees. With a record of 39-30 the Chiefs are tied for first place with the Clinton LumberKings but both teams clinched playoff spots Saturday. The Chiefs can still finish in first place with a Sunday win and a loss by Clinton.
The Chiefs recorded an out at the plate in the top of the first to keep the Bees from scoring. Peoria then got to work against Joe Gatto in the bottom of the inning. Edmundo Sosa singled with one out in the first and Eli Alvarez launched his second home run of the season into the left field berm for a 2-0 Chiefs lead. Both of Alvarez’s home runs have come at home against the Bees with the other one coming back in April.
Peoria blew the game open in the second inning. Jose Godoy singled to right and Thomas Spitz tripled into the left-field corner for a 3-0 Chiefs lead. With one out Vaughn Bryan walked and Magneuris Sierra singled to left for a 4-0 Chiefs lead. Sosa singled to load the bases and Alvarez gave the Chiefs a 6-0 lead with a single to right. Sosa scored on a groundout by Brian O’Keefe and Godoy’s second hit of the inning plated Alvarez for an 8-0 Chiefs lead.
Burlington scored an unearned run off Chiefs starter Ryan Helsley in the third inning. Angelo Amendolare reached on an error by Sosa and scored on a two-out double by Michael Hermosillo.
The Bees plated two runs in the seventh against reliever Harley Holt. Jordan Serena singled and went to third on a single by Brendon Sanger. Jordan Walsh singled to score Serena and Sanger came home as well when Sierra booted the ball in center for an error and an 8-3 Chiefs lead.
Helsley (7-1) picked up the win as he allowed just one unearned run on eight hits over six innings. The All-Star struck out seven and walked one. Holt allowed two runs, one earned on four hits over two innings while striking out one. Luke Harrison
Notes…The only other time the Chiefs have made the playoffs in consecutive seasons in 34 years were in 1985 and 1986 with current Philadelphia Phillies manager Pete Mackanin as the Chiefs skipper…Those teams both made the MWL finals…Joe Kruzel joins Mackanin as the only managers to lead the Chiefs to the playoffs more than once…The Chiefs have made the playoffs in 1985, 1986, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2015 and now 2016…Alvarez tied a career-high with four RBI…He has been on base in 23 straight games which ties Spitz for the 2016 Chiefs season high…Helsley has won seven straight decisions and five straight starts, both Chiefs highs for 2016…The six hits in the second inning ties the Chiefs season high and the six runs were one short of the seven runs the Chiefs scored in an inning against Beloit on May 20…Godoy had two hits in the second inning which was last accomplished by Sierra in the May 20 game…Helsley leads the Chiefs with eight quality starts…The first half concludes Sunday at 1:00 p.m. as the Chiefs start RH Junior Fernandez (5-4, 3.26) against Bees RH Luis Pena (2-4, 2.39)…All tickets are $5.00 as part of the Father’s Day Special…Fans can play catch on the field at Noon and Chiefs players will sign autographs for Kids 12 and under at 12:15…The first 1000 fans get a player poster of All-Star SS Edmundo Sosa courtesy of City Link and the Peoria Journal Star…Kids 12 and under can run the bases post-game…Sunday is a PNC Kids Sunday and Seniors Sunday with $1.00 ice cream sandwiches…The broadcast can be heard, starting with the Pre-Game Show at 6:15 p.m. on www.peoriachiefs.com/listenlive which also has downloads for a free app on the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android…The broadcast is also available on the Peoria Chiefs Network in the Tune-In Radio App.