Austin Kirk and the Peoria Chiefs celebrated Independence Day on Monday with a 2-0, no-hit victory over the Clinton LumberKings in front of 6,621 fans. Kirk went the distance for his first career complete game and Peoria’s first one-pitcher no-hitter in a nine-inning game since Mike Aspray in 1988. The last overall no-hitter was April 30, 2010 when Nick Struck also no-hit Clinton in a rain-shortened five-inning game. The Chiefs threw a combined, four-pitcher no-hitter at O’Brien Field against Beloit on August 26, 2007. Peoria improves to 4-7 in the second half and 37-44 overall.
Kirk allowed two base-runners all night with a leadoff walk in the first and a leadoff walk in the sixth. The walk in the first was erased on a double play and after a sac bunt, Kirk recorded two strikeouts to end the sixth. Kirk struck out five straight in the sixth and seventh innings and finished with a career-high nine strikeouts. The closest Clinton came to a hit was when Jetsy Extrano led off the third with a line drive to left and Greg Rohan made a diving catch toward the warning track. Matt Szczur tracked down a deep flyball in center to start the fifth, but other than that Kirk was in control all game long.
Jandy Sena of Clinton matched him early and the teams carried a scoreless deadlock through five and a half innings until Peoria notched a pair of runs in the sixth. With one out, Matt Szczur ignited the offense with a line drive single into left before Elliot Soto and Greg Rohan drew back-to-back walks. Richard Jones put the Chiefs on top for the first time with a long sacrifice fly to right that scored Szczur and Ryan Cuneo made it 2-0 with a RBI single up the middle against reliever Nathan Reed.
With the crowd of 6,621 roaring, Kirk returned to the hill for the ninth inning having thrown 94 pitches. Anthony Phillips led off with a grounder back to Kirk and Carlton Tanabe lined out to center. With all the fans standing and clapping, Kirk threw strike one to Mike McGee before a towering pop-up on the infield was caught by Cuneo at first base. The Chiefs rushed from the dugout and mobbed Kirk who received numerous standing ovations, and two shaving-cream pies, during two TV interviews and an in-house interview.
Kirk pitched all nine innings and allowed just two walks. He struck out a career-high ten while throwing 101 pitches. Kirk is the first Chiefs pitcher to throw a nine-inning complete game since Austin Bibens-Dirkx on July 27, 2009 and the first to strike out ten since Frank Batista on July 24, 2010 at Lake County.
Article courtesy Peoria Chiefs