The Peoria Chiefs led 4-1 after three innings but lost 5-4 Sunday afternoon as the Cedar Rapids Kernels swept the Western Division Finals 2-0. The Chiefs season ends with their first playoff appearance since 2009 and a 75-win regular season.
The Chiefs fell behind 1-0 in the second as Austin Diemer doubled home Chris Paul with two outs before Ian McKinney escaped the inning. The Chiefs took a 4-1 lead in the top of the third against lefty Randy Rosario. Steve Bean led off with an infield single and Kenny Peoples-Walls followed with a single. After a fielders choice put runners on first and third with one out, Oscar Mercado walked to load the bases. With two down, Alex DeLeon hit a grounder to third that was bobbled and thrown away by TJ White. Two runs scored on the play as the Chiefs took a 2-1 lead. A balk by Rosario scored Mercado from third for a 3-1 lead with DeLeon moving to second. Harrison Bader singled to center for a 4-1 lead before Rosario escaped the inning.
The Kernels cut the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning and knocked McKinney from the contest. With a runner on first base and no outs Brian Navaretto doubled to left. Diemer singled to left to score a run but Peoples-Walls threw out Navaretto at the plate for the first out. Nick Frey took over for McKinney and a double play ended the inning.
The Kernels got closer in the fifth as Edgar Corcino led off with a double against Frey. With two down Lamonte Wade doubled home Corcino to cut the lead to 4-3.
Tyler Bray cruised through the sixth inning before Cedar Rapids took the lead in the seventh against Sasha Kuebel. Nick Gordon blooped a single to left and was sacrificed to second. As White walked, Gordon stole third and tied the game as he scored on a passed ball. With White at second and two outs, Paul put the Kernels on top 5-4 with a single to left off Jery Then.
The Chiefs went in order in the eighth against Yorman Landa before Brian O’Keefe walked with one out in the ninth. With the tying run at first, Steve Bean grounded into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
McKinney allowed two runs on eight hits over 3 1/3 innings while striking out four and walking one. Frey allowed one run on two hits and a strikeout over 1 2/3 innings. Bray retired all three batters he faced with one strikeout. Kuebel (0-1) took the loss allowing two runs, one earned, on one hit and one walk in 2/3 of an inning. Then allowed two hits and struck out one in 1 1/3 innings.