CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA - Travis Blankenhorn's walk-off double with two outs in the ninth inning lifted the Cedar Rapids Kernels to a 6-5 win Saturday against the Peoria Chiefs in front of 4,372 fans at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Kernels secured a 2-0 lead in this four-game series and clinched a season series victory by reaching a 9-3 advantage in this 17-game season series.
Two-out offense from Joe Cronin and Blankenhorn was the difference in Saturday's 6-5 win. Cronin ripped a single up the middle to extend the inning. He stole second base on a called strike that Blankenhorn behind in the count, 1-2. On the next pitch, Blankenhorn crushed a double to the right-field wall that won the game.
Peoria (10-7, 40-46) held an early 1-0 lead during the first inning. Kramer Robertson hit a leadoff double for his first professional hit. He advanced to third base on a groundout and was driven in by Dylan Carlson.
The Kernels (9-8, 48-39) rallied in the second inning and took a 4-1 lead. The Kernels loaded the bases with one away in the frame, and Andre Jernigan collected a go-ahead, two-run double that plated Amaurys Minier and Caleb Hamilton. Gorge Munoz followed with a two-run single and brought in Trey Cabbage and Jernigan.
By the sixth inning, the Chiefs roared back to tie the game at 4-4. Vince Jackson opened the fourth with a solo home run. Stefan Trosclair scored later in the inning after an error. Peoria evened the score in the sixth when a force out off the bat of Mick Fennell allowed Jackson to come home.
Back-to-back triples pushed Cedar Rapids ahead in the bottom of the seventh. Munoz tripled to lead off the inning, and Aaron Whitefield produced a triple of his own to drive in Munoz and give the Kernels a 5-4 lead.
Danny Hudzina kept Peoria alive by tying the contest, 5-5, in the top of the ninth. He launched a solo home run with one out in the inning, but the tie would be broken in the bottom of the ninth by Blankenhorn's game-winning double.
Hector Lujan (3-0) was charged for a blown save but also picked up a victory Saturday. Lujan allowed one run over two innings pitched. Dewin Perez (1-3) pitched in the ninth inning and gave up the walk-off double in a losing decision.
Game three of the four-game series is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. Sunday. Kernels left-hander Anthony Marzi (1-0, 0.00) and Chiefs right-hander Juan Perez (2-1, 2.38) are the probable pitchers. Chris Kleinhans-Schulz will have the call on 1450 KMRY AM and 93.1 KMRY FM and also online at www.kmryradio.com, www.kernels.com, and MiLB.TV.
Children aged 12 and under can get a coupon for a free hot dog, popcorn and Capri Sun for Western Fraternal Life Kids Eat Free Sunday. After the game, all fans can run the bases, play catch in the outfielder, and get autographs from the Kernels on the field courtesy of Prairie Farms and 104.5 KDAT. Travel Advisors Baseball Bingo includes a chance to qualify to win a trip to Minneapolis to see a Twins game. Fans that ride their bikes to the contest for Coors Light Bike to the Ballpark are eligible to win special prizes. There will also be a pregame ceremony honoring the 2017 Nick Adenhart Memorial Scholarship winners.
Fans can purchase tickets for all 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 Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 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.