CLINTON, Iowa - The Kernels crushed the Clinton LumberKings 15-6 on Monday afternoon in the final game of the regular season. Cedar Rapids scored seven runs in the fifth inning to cruise to the victory. The Kernels play game one of the Midwest League playoffs at Quad Cities on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. The Kernels begin the playoffs with the best regular-season record in the Midwest League.
The Kernels finished the regular season with an 88-50 overall record, matching the most wins for a Cedar Rapids club in a single-season since joining the Midwest League. The 1990 Cedar Rapids Reds also recorded 88 regular-season wins. The Kernels joined the Midwest League in 1962. The 1922 Cedar Rapids Bunnies finished with a 92-37 record when they were a member of the Mississippi Valley League.
In the game, Michael Quesada reached base all five times he came to the plate with two hits and three walks. He has now reached base nine times in a row, dating back to Sunday's game. Quesada drove in two runs in the game. Jonathan Murphy and Adam Brett Walker both homered. Murphy drove in four runs while Walker collected three runs batted in.
Adam Brett Walker gave the Kernels a 1-0 lead in the second inning when he crushed a solo home run to straight-away center field. It was Walker's 27th homer of the season. Walker finished the regular season tops in the Midwest League with 27 home runs and 109 runs batted in.
Walker came up big again the in the fourth inning as the Kernels tallied a pair to go ahead 3-0. Walker's RBI double plated Mike Gonzales, who had singled. Walker would score from second base when Travis Harrison reached on a fielding error.
Clinton cut the Kernels lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning when Gaby Guerrero tripled home a run and then scored on Zach Shank's RBI sacrifice fly.
The Kernels sent 11 men to the plate and scored seven runs in the fourth inning, pushing ahead 10-2. Jorge Polanco's RBI double scored Michael Quesada. Max Kepler ripped a RBI single right up the middle to plate Jonathan Murphy. On the play, Polanco scored on a fielding error in center field. Kepler would soon score on Walker's RBI sacrifice fly. Two batters later, Tyler Grimes doubled home Mike Gonzales. Quesada capped off the inning with a two-run single, plating Travis Harrison and Grimes.
Cedar Rapids added four more runs in the eighth inning, extending their lead to 14-2. Murphy launched a three-run home run to the grass berm in left field. It was his second of the season and brought Grimes and Quesada along for the ride. Later in the inning, Niko Goodrum came home on a RBI sacrifice fly by Gonzales.
Clinton scored four times on back to back home runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, cutting the Kernels lead to 14-6. Guerrero hit a three-run home run to the opposite-field in right field, and then Shank knocked a solo shot out to left.
The Kernels increased their lead to 15-6 in the ninth inning when Grimes came home on Murphy's RBI groundout.
The Kernels used six pitchers in the victory. Miguel Sulbaran (9-4) started and went five innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out one and walked one. Hudson Boyd added a scoreless inning while Josue Montanez went 0.2 inning, allowing no runs. Dallas Gallant allowed four runs over one inning. Brandon Bixler struck out the only batter he faced. Brian Gilbert pitched the final inning, allowing no runs.
Steven Ewing (1-2) took the loss for Clinton, allowing 10 runs (nine earned) over 4.2 innings.
MIDWEST LEAGUE PLAYOFFS - QUARTERFINALS - BEST OF 3
Game One: Wednesday, September 4 @ Quad Cities River Bandits (Astros) - 7:00 p.m.
Modern Woodmen Park
Cedar Rapids: LHP Brett Lee (8-4, 2.95) v. Quad Cities: RHP Chris Devenski (4-3, 4.36)
Radio: KMRY 1450 AM/93.1 FM & www.kernels.com
Game Two: Thursday, September 5 v. Quad Cities River Bandits (Astros) - 6:35 p.m.
Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium
Cedar Rapids: RHP Tim Shibuya (4-0, 0.96) v. Quad Cities: LHP Joe Bircher (3-3, 4.15)
Tickets: Available at www.kernels.com or Kernels Ticket Office at Veterans Memorial Stadium, 319-896-7650