Peoria, IL – The Peoria Distillers grabbed the lead in the bottom of the fourth and never looked back in a 7-5 win over the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in the series opener. Peoria improved to 19-11 in the second half and 58-42 overall with the second game of the series set for 7:00 p.m. on Thursday night.
The Distillers used a two-out rally to jump out to an early lead in the bottom of the first inning on Timber Rattlers starter Christian Taugner. Elehuris Montero punched a two-out single to center and Yariel Gonzalez drove him on a double down the right field line for a quick 1-0 lead.
Wisconsin only needed one hit to move ahead in the top of the fourth inning against Distillers starter Angel Rondon. Tristen Lutz and Trever Morrison both drew walks to lead off the inning. With two down, Zach Clark pulled a three-run homer down the left field line to put the Timber Rattlers in front 3-1.
It did not take long for the Distillers to answer in the bottom of the fourth. Zach Kirtley led off with a single up the middle followed by a walk from Dennis Ortega. Rayder Ascanio doubled to center to score Kirtley as the deficit was cut to 3-2. With both runners in scoring position, JR Davis lined a single to right bringing around Ortega and Ascanio as the Distillers took a 4-3 lead. Andres Luna reached on an infield single and Nick Plummer singled to load the bases. Taugner exited and Gabe Friese replaced him on the mound with nobody out. One out later, Montero scored Davis on a sacrifice fly for a 5-3 advantage.
The Timber Rattlers caught a break to get a run back in the top of the fifth inning. Jay Feliciano hit a leadoff infield single and scored with two outs when Davis dropped a fly ball in center as the margin dwindled to 5-4.
Peoria tacked on two more in the bottom of the fifth using the long ball and timely hitting. Gonzalez blasted a leadoff homer over the fence in left as his seventh home run of the season pushed the lead back to two runs. Ortega doubled with one out and Ascanio poked a single to right to load the bases. Davis redeemed himself at the plate with a single to center that plated Ortega for a 7-4 lead.
Wisconsin continued to hang around thanks to a contribution by former Chiefs infielder Darren Seferina. Payton Henry led off with a double and scored on a two-out single by Seferina to cut the deficit to 7-5 in the seventh.
Rondon (3-0) earned the win tossing 6 2/3 innings allowing five runs, four earned, on five hits with two walks and 11 strikeouts. Prendergast pitched 1 1/3 scoreless inning allowing one hit with no walks and one strikeout. Whitley earned the save throwing one scoreless inning on one hit with one walk and one strikeout.
Notes… Peoria will be known as the Distillers the entire series…Rondon recorded a career high 11 strikeout…Peoria is 12-5 in the first game of a series at home…The Distillers matched their season high 15 hits…Ortega has a 13-game hit streak and tied Montero for the longest of the season…Montero has a six-game hit streak…He leads the team with 63 RBI, 19 with the bases loaded…He is 6-for-10 against Taugner this season…Gonzalez recorded his 28th multi-hit game of the season…Peoria is 50-1 when taking a lead into the ninth inning…Every Distillers player in the starting lineup recorded a hit…Whitley tied Fabian Blanco for the team lead in saves with six…Peoria’s starting pitching has 13 straight games with at least five innings…Peoria is now 1-2 wearing Distillers jerseys since 1917 when the original team changed their name to the Tractors…The series continues at 7:00 p.m. Thursday with post-game fireworks as the Distillers start RH Paul Balestrieri (7-4, 4.16) against Wisconsin RH Nelson Hernandez (9-6, 4.78)…The first 1,000 fans ages 21 and up will receive a voucher for a Peoria Chiefs Growler that can be redeemed starting in the top of the sixth inning…Thursday is a Baumgarten Distributing Beer & Brat Thirsty Thursday featuring $2 12 ounce domestic cans and soda, $3 16 ounce craft drafts and margaritas, and $3 brats…Students with a valid college ID can purchase $5 Lawn seats…Thursday is also a Taco Bell Live Mas Thursday as fans can show a Taco Bell receipt within the last seven days to receive a buy one, get one free ticket, limit four free tickets per transaction…The broadcast can be heard, starting with the Pre-Game Show at 6:45 p.m. on www.peoriachiefs.com/listenlive and is also available on the Peoria Chiefs Network on the Tune-In Radio App…The game is also available to subscribers on MiLB.TV.