COMSTOCK PARK, MICH. - Despite a career-high-tying eight strikeouts by Cole Sands and a game-tying home run from Gabe Snyder, the Cedar Rapids Kernels dropped a 7-4 decision Saturday evening against the West Michigan Whitecaps in the finale of a three-game series and six-game Cedar Rapids road trip.
Cedar Rapids (15-20) grabbed a quick lead in the second inning before West Michigan (16-18) surged in front, 2-1, during the home half of the frame. Yeltsin Encarnacion's two-out RBI single drove in David Banuelos for a 1-0 Kernels lead. The Whitecaps answered with a two-out, two-run single by John Valente to move ahead.
Snyder brought the Kernels level within the top of the sixth, but the Whitecaps regained the lead later in the inning. Snyder lifted a solo home run to right field for a brief 2-2 tie. Nick Ames hit a tiebreaking double during the bottom of the sixth, and Christopher Proctor produced a two-run single to give West Michigan a 5-2 advantage.
Sands (1-1) ended his night within that sixth inning and suffered the first loss of his career. He allowed seven hits and four runs over 5.1 innings pitched, and his eight strikeouts matched a personal best that was set April 6 at the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in his professional debut.
The seventh inning would become the third frame with a Cedar Rapids run in the top half before West Michigan tallied multiple runs in response. The Kernels closed the gap to 5-3 when Andrew Bechtold scored on a wild pitch. The Whitecaps stretched the lead to 7-3 with an RBI single by Ames and a run from Parker Meadows via wild pitch.
Bañuelos kept the comeback alive during the eighth inning. Following a leadoff walk by Gilberto Celestino, Bañuelos doubled to the left-field wall and trimmed West Michigan's advantage to 7-4, but Cedar Rapids was unable to climb closer in rest of the game.
Carlos Guzman (2-2) recorded a quality start and picked up the victory with only three runs conceded in six-plus innings pitched. Sandel De La Cruz was credited with his team-high third hold in relief of Guzman, and Angel Reyes posted a scoreless finish to the contest for his team-high fourth save.
Cedar Rapids returns to action Monday night at 5:30 p.m. by hosting the Quad Cities River Bandits for a doubleheader. Kernels right-handers Josh Winder (1-1, 2.45) and Austin Schulfer (3-1, 2.38) are expected to start against River Bandits right-handers R.J. Freure (1-0, 0.49) and Matt Ruppenthal (1-0, 1.47), respectively. Chris Kleinhans-Schulz will call the twin bill on 1450 KMRY AM and 93.1 KMRY and also online at www.kmryradio.com, www.kernels.com, and MiLB.TV.
Monday's doubleheader opens a four-game, three-day Cedar Rapids Kernels homestand. Mark Down Monday includes special deals of $1.50 apiece for regular hot dogs and $1.00 each for small popcorn, ice cream sandwiches, and chips.
Fans can purchase tickets for all Cedar Rapids Kernels home games by visiting www.kernels.com, going to the Kernels Ticket Office, or calling (319) 896-7560. The Kernels Ticket Office is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays. On Sundays when the Kernels have a home game, the Kernels Ticket Office will open at 11:00 a.m.
The Cedar Rapids Kernels are the Midwest League affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.