The Kane County Cougars decided their first-round playoff opponent by defeating the Peoria Chiefs 9-2 on Sunday night.
A season-best 11,428 at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark watched the Cougars (46-23, 91-48) eliminate the Chiefs (34-35, 71-67) to guarantee a postseason series against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers beginning Wednesday.
Despite the Cougars jumping in front in the first inning, Peoria took the lead in the top of the fourth. Luis Perez homered in the second inning for the Chiefs but made a costly error in a 3-run Cougars inning.
The Cougars took the lead in the fourth and knocked Luis Perdomo (3-6) out of the game by loading the bases. Chensy Young hit a bouncing ball that nearly turned into a double play, but Perez, normally an outfielder, tossed the relay throw in the dirt that first baseman Justin Ringo couldn't handle. Two runs came home on the fielder's choice and the error for a 4-2 Cougars lead.
Cael Brockmeyer supplied more offense with a solo shot in the fifth, but the Cougars opened things up in the seventh. With a run already in, Peoria intentionally walked Jeffrey Baez to face Carlos Penalver with the bases loaded.
The Cougars shortstop ripped a line drive toward the mound that redirected to right field to drive in 2 runs. Shawon Dunston Jr. finished the scoring with a sacrifice fly.
The Cougars' bullpen tossed nearly 4 perfect innings. Michael Heesch served up a leadoff double in the sixth but struck out the next six batters he faced and finished with 3 scoreless innings. Francisco Carrillo worked a perfect ninth. Ben Wells (4-0) earned the win.
The Cougars and Chiefs wrap up the regular season Monday with a 1 p.m. first pitch. Paul Blackburn (9-4, 3.29) will take the mound for the Cougars against Peoria left-hander Rob Kaminsky (8-2, 1.69).