Taking on the Western Division's best in the Cedar Rapids Kernels (68-59, 36-22), the Beloit Snappers (63-62, 31-25) fell at home 5-2 in game one of a three-game series in Tuesday night in front of 1,016 fans.
Cedar Rapids broke it open in the ninth with three runs on three hits and a Snappers error. Ben Rodriguez led off with a walk and came around to score on an RBI single from Andrew Bechtold to make it 3-1 Kernels.
One batter later, the nine-hole hitter Michael Davis launched a two-run homer to right to score Bechtold and push it to 5-1.
The Snappers struck first in the bottom of the second, with an RBI single from Mickey McDonald to score Jack Meggs from second. It was McDonald's 25th RBI of the season.
The Kernels would tie the game in the fifth when Ben Rodriguez would score on a wild pitch from Snappers starter Bryce Conley to make it 1-1.
The Kernels took the lead for good in the sixth when Ryan Jeffers, stealing from first on a hit and run play, went around to third on an opposite field single from Trevor Larnach. Snappers left fielder Lazaro Armenteros attempted to field the ball and it went under his glove, allowing Ryan Jeffers to score from third and advance Rodriguez to second and make it 2-1 Kernels.
In the bottom of the ninth, Miguel Mercedes would open the inning with a solo, opposite field home run to right on the first pitch to make it 5-2.
After a Mickey McDonald single with one out, Jordan Devencenzi grounded in a 6-4-3 double-play to end the game.
Taking the loss was Conley, who went 5.2 innings and allowed just two runs, one earned, and finished with eight strikeouts. It was his sixth loss of the season.
Randy Dobnak, the Kernels starter, got his team-leading ninth win of the season after going seven complete innings and allowing just one run with five strikeouts.
It was a tough debut for Snappers pitcher Brandon Withers. Withers, just called up Tuesday, made his first Snappers appearance and gave up the three runs in the ninth while also striking out the side.
After Beloit's opening run, the offense struggled throughout. The Snappers only got two hits over the next five innings, their best chance coming in the bottom of the seventh inning when Meggs led off with a double. He would get to third on a sacrifice bunt, but a couple batters later Nick Allen would ground out to end the inning with Meggs stranded on third.
The Kernels, who came in with one of the more potent offenses in the Midwest League struggled outside of the ninth and only had five hits overall. Coming into the day, the Kernels were third in batting average, third in hits and first in the Western division in runs scored.
Mercedes solo homer in the ninth was his fifth of the season and his 21st RBI. It now gives him 11 RBI in his last six games. Nick Allen, McDonald and Meggs all finished with two hits.
With the loss, the Snappers are now a half game behind the Kane County Cougars for the wild-card spot in the Western division in the second half of the season.
It was also just the Snappers 14th loss in series opening games, now 22-14 on the year in those spots. In games that the Snappers score first, it was just their 18th loss opposed to their 40 wins.
Wednesday will be game two of this three-game series between the Snappers and Kernels. Taking the mound to begin for Beloit will be left-hander Ivan Andueza (3-9, 5.36). For Cedar Rapids, they will have right-hander Jordan Balazovic (7-3, 3.94).
That Wednesday are Kids Eat Free and Craft Beer Wednesday specials. Fans can enjoy a general admission ticket and a brat basket for just $10.19 from your friends at 101.9 Iron Country Radio. Kids 12 and under will receive a hot dog and soda voucher to be redeemed at the main concession stand.
The Beloit Snappers are a member of the Midwest League and have been the Single-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics since 2013. For more ticket information, contact the Snappers office at (608) 362-2272 or on our website, www.snappersbaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.