GENEVA, Ill. - The Kernels used a six-run 4th inning to win 7-3 at Kane County and finish off the sweep of the Cougars in the best of three Midwest League Quarterfinals. Cedar Rapids advances to the Western Division Championship Series for the fourth consecutive season. The Kernels have now swept their opening round playoff opponent in three straight years.
The Kernels will play either Peoria or Quad Cities, who will play a deciding Game 3 on Friday night in Davenport.
Clark Beeker (1-0) earned the win for the Kernels. He allowed three runs (two earned) on nine hits, striking out six and walking three. Colton Davis went 1 2/3 innings, allowing no runs. Hector Lujan got the final out for his second save in two postseason games.
Kane County jumped ahead 2-0 in the second inning on a two-out, two-run single to center by Adam Walton. Jose Herrera drew a walk to start the inning, moving to second on Yan Sanchez's single. A groundout moved both runners into scoring position before Walton's single.
Kane County's starter Sam McWilliams cruised through three innings, retiring the first nine batters in a row with four strikeouts. However, McWilliams did not record another out as the first eight men reached in the top of the fourth.
All in all, six runs scored in the fourth inning on seven hits as the Kernels sent 11 to the dish to take a 6-2 lead. Five consecutive singles started the frame, beginning with Aaron Whitefield's infield single to the left side. Travis Blankenhorn then snuck a ball through the right side of the infield. Caleb Hamilton got the scoring started when he looped a RBI single into shallow left-center on a 3-2 pitch to score Whitefield. Lewin Diaz followed by also placing a RBI single into left to score Blankenhorn and tie the game 2-2. Jimmy Kerrigan came up next a rolled his RBI single up the third base line, scoring Hamilton and giving Cedar Rapids a 3-2 advantage.
Trey Cabbage delivered the major blow in the inning with a monster three-run home run to deep right field. It scored both Diaz and Kerrigan to put the Kernels up 6-2. Ariel Montesino followed with a triple to the wall in center field, chasing McWilliams from the game. Ben Rortvedt was then hit by a pitch by reliever Junior Garcia, becoming the eighth straight Kernel to reach to start the inning.
Kane County cut the Kernels lead to 6-3 in the seventh inning. Sanchez began the inning with a single, eventually scoring after a two-out error.
Ben Rortvedt's RBI single in the eighth inning pushed the Kernels lead to 7-3. It scored Kerrigan, who singled to start the inning.
McWilliams (0-1) took the loss for the Cougars, allowing six runs on seven hits. He struck out four and walked none.
The Kernels begin the best of three Western Division Championship Series on the road on Saturday night at either Peoria or Quad Cities. Cedar Rapids will host Game 2 on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. and Game 3 on Monday at 6:35 p.m., if necessary.
First pitch for Sunday's Game 2 is at 4:05 p.m. from Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Tickets may be purchased online anytime at www.kernels.com. The Kernels Ticket Office will be open on Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Fans can purchase tickets by calling 319-896-7560 or by stopping by the Kernels Ticket Office. The Kernels Ticket Office will also be open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Fans can listen to the play-by-play action on 1450 KMRY AM and 93.1 KMRY FM, as well as online at www.kernels.com and www.kmryradio.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.