CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA - The Kernels extended the season with a 7-4 victory over the Quad Cities River Bandits in Game 2 of the Western Division Championship Series on Sunday. Cedar Rapids hosts the River Bandits on Monday at 6:35 p.m. in decisive Game 3.
The Kernels will attempt to advance to the Midwest League Championship Series for the second time in three years.
Cedar Rapids led 7-0 after five innings and held off a sixth-inning rally by the River Bandits for the win.
The Kernels scored three times in the second inning. Lewin Diaz doubled to begin the inning, the fifth postseason double for the league's leader in doubles. He later scored on Jimmy Kerrigan's RBI sacrifice fly. Shane Kennedy restarted the inning by drawing a walk. Shane Carrier then smashed a two-run home run to left field, putting the Kernels up 3-0. It was Carrier first hit of the postseason.
Travis Blankenhorn pushed the lead to 4-0 in the third inning with a solo home run to right field. It was Blankenhorn's first postseason RBI and home run after leading the team in both categories during the regular season.
Cedar Rapids scored three more runs in the fifth inning to jump ahead 7-0. Blankenhorn walked, and Aaron Whitefield singled to put two on. Diaz's RBI single to deep left plated Blankenhorn. Caleb Hamilton's RBI double to left scored Whitefield. It was the first of three doubles for Hamilton in the game. Diaz came home on Kerrigan's RBI groundout.
Charlie Barnes (1-0) tossed five scoreless innings for the victory. He allowed five hits while striking out three and walking three, stranding six River Bandits on base through five innings.
Quad Cities made things interesting against the Kernels bullpen in the sixth inning, scoring four to cut the lead to 7-4. Reliever Patrick McGuff walked three of four batters he faced to load the bases. Randy Dobnak then came in, but threw a wild pitch and allowed four straight to reach base after retiring the first man he faced. Dobnak's wild pitch allowed Abraham Toro to score and get the River Bandits on the board. Three straight RBI singles by Bryan De La Cruz, Chas McCormick and Colin Moran made the score 7-4. With the bases loaded and two outs, Colton Davis retired Toro - batting for the second time in the inning - on one pitch with a fly out to left.
Davis earned a much-deserved hold, throwing 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He allowed just one hit while striking out one.
Hector Lujan finished off the victory with a scoreless ninth. Lujan has saved all three Kernel playoff victories.
Game 3 is tomorrow night in Cedar Rapids at 6:35 p.m. RHP Tyler Wells is scheduled to start for the Kernels against LHP Kit Scheetz.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.kernels.com. Fans can purchase tickets at the Kernels Ticket Office or by calling 319-896-7560. The Kernels Ticket Office will be open at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday morning.
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.