A back-and-forth affair ended in the Beloit Snappers (64-63) favor on Thursday night, as they downed the Cedar Rapids Kernels (69-60) 5-4 at Pohlman Field in front of 1,025.
Miguel Mercedes put Beloit ahead for good in the bottom of the seventh with a two-run double off Kernels righty Jose Martinez before Snappers relievers Ivan Andueza and Jesus Zambrano sealed the win. The victory brings the Snappers within half a game of Kane County, who currently occupies the Midwest League Western Division wild card spot.
Mercedes also started the scoring for Beloit with a sacrifice fly in the first inning, giving the Snappers an early 1-0 lead. That would hold until David Banuelos took Snappers starter Gus Varland (0-0, 0.79 ERA) deep in the third to knot the contest at 1-1. That was the only blemish on Varland's line, as well as the first run the right-hander has allowed as a member of the Snappers. On a strict pitch count, Varland threw four innings of two-hit ball while walking two and striking out four.
The right-hander came in having not surrendered an earned run since June 29th against the Brooklyn Cyclones in the New York Penn League. Hit total ran to 26.1 innings without surrendering an earned run. Over the span he surrendered 14 hits, six walks and had 37 strikeouts.
The Snappers regained the lead in an unusual fashion in the fifth. Ryan Gridley started the inning with a single off Cedar Rapids starter Melvi Acosta. Two batters later, Athletics No. 6 prospect Lazaro Armenteros singled to put runners on first and second with one out.
Then, during Athletics No. 5 prospect Austin Beck's at-bat, Acosta uncorked a wild pitch that hit the catcher Banuelos on his bare hand instead of his glove. Banuelos' initially screamed in pain, but then after a moment chased down the ball that had bounced towards the Kernels' dugout. It was too late, however, and Gridley was able to score from second with Armenteros advancing to third on the single wild pitch. Beck added an RBI single after the injury delay, extending Beloit's lead to 3-1.
Cedar Rapids answered in the sixth, taking advantage of a momentary lapse in command from Andueza. The lefty walked Twins No. 12 prospect Akil Baddoo to start the inning, and then, two batters later, did the same to Twins No. 6 prospect Trevor Larnach. Back-to-back singles from Ben Rodriguez and Trey Cabbage brought the Kernels within a run before a two-run single from Twins No. 27 prospect Andrew Bechtold gave them a 4-3 lead.
Armenteros started the Snappers' seventh-inning rally with a walk. Beck followed with a single, setting the stage for Mercedes' go-ahead hit.
The Snappers racked up 12 hits on Thursday, including three-hit performances from Armenteros and Beck. Athletics No. 17 prospect Nick Allen stayed hot with a 2-for-5 night.
Beloit begins a crucial series in Peoria tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. CT. The Snappers and Chiefs will continue a suspended game in the bottom of the second inning, followed by a full nine-inning nightcap.
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.