BELOIT - A trip back to Pohlman Field did nothing to cool off the suddenly hot Beloit Snappers.
The Snappers, mired in a season-long slump, won their fifth straight game Wednesday night. Beloit defeated Peoria 7-2 to keep the momentum they had built in completing a four-game sweep at Clinton this week.
Santis Sanchez struck the game's big blow, with a three-run homer to left field with the Snappers clinging to a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning.
From there, Beloit cruised to the victory over the woeful Chiefs, who dropped to 13-32 in the second half while the Snappers are creeping ever closer to the .500 mark at 20-25.
With 25 games left to play in the second half, Beloit stands six games in arrears of Clinton for the final playoff spot. While the odds are still stacked against them, it's rather incredible that the conversation is even being held.
Snappers manager Lloyd Turner said there isn't anything wrong with that kind of talk, which permeated the joyous locker room following the game.
"I think it's great," Turner said. "I told those guys to finish strong. I don't know how many times I've said it, but I'll continue to say it. We've got to finish this thing out strong because there's always people watching."
A pair of Snappers pitchers combined on an eight-hitter. Starter Joe DeMers (3-3) went five innings and allowed two runs, while Richard Guasch came out of the bullpen to pitch four hitless innings to record his second save.
The resurgent Snappers, who have won nine of their last 12 games, have done so with solid performances across the board.
"It's been a little of everything," Turner said. "But the pitching especially has been good lately. When the pitching is going good, your chances to win are great. Tonight, we didn't have a lot of baserunners, and when they did get in a little trouble, they grinded away and got out of it."
Joseph Pena went 3-for-3 and scored a pair of runs to pace Beloit's eight-hit attack.
"There's been a big difference in the energy of this team in the last couple of weeks," Pena said. "We just came back from Clinton and I felt like I was in high school again with all the noise we were making." Pena said playing meaningful games naturally brings the energy
"We're all out here playing for something" Pena said. "The one thing we want to do together is win, even if we are sacrificing ourselves out on the field to do it. Everybody believes we still have a chance, and there's still a lot of time left. "
Though Peoria is playing near-historically terrible in the second half, Pena said they aren't taking them lightly.
"Hey, if you looked at our record recently you wouldn't think we were a dangerous team, but we've won five in a row," Pena said. "So we aren't looking past them at all. We're trying to look at each time like they are number one, and go out there and do our best."
The Snappers and Chiefs will play game two of their three-game series Thursday at 6:30 p.m.