COMSTOCK PARK, MICH. - Gregory Soto registered 11 strikeouts over six scoreless innings Friday to lead the West Michigan Whitecaps to a 3-0 three-hit shutout and a three-game sweep of the Cedar Rapids Kernels at Fifth Third Ballpark. Friday's defeat was also Cedar Rapids' third shutout loss in its last four contests.
Soto (8-1) earned his fourth consecutive winning decision for West Michigan (16-5, 61-27). He did not allow any baserunners to reach third base within six innings of work for a quality start. His total of 11 strikeouts was one shy of a career high that was set May 20 at the Lansing Lugnuts.
A pair of early errors by the Kernels (10-12, 49-43) helped the Whitecaps take a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Gorge Munoz erred on a potential double play attempt to set up runners at first and second base. Austin Athmann was batting later in the frame when a double steal coupled with a throwing error by Ben Rortvedt allowed Derek Hill to score. Danny Woodrow reached third base on the play and came home during an RBI groundout by Athmann.
West Michigan stretched its advantage to 3-0 within the bottom of the third. Danny Pinero hit a two-out double to keep the inning alive. Cole Bauml drove in Pinero with an RBI single through an infield shift.
Whitecaps relievers Zac Houston and Eduardo Jimenez combined with Soto to record 15 consecutive outs to finish the contest and the sweep. Houston pitched two perfect innings of relief for his fourth hold. Jimenez quickly retired the side during the ninth and notched his fifth save and his fourth in his last four outings.
Kernels starting pitcher Clark Beeker (8-3) was the losing pitcher. He allowed three runs over five innings pitched and tallied a team-high five strikeouts. Two of the three runs were unearned.
The three-game sweep was the first suffered by Cedar Rapids since June 10-12, 2016 at the Peoria Chiefs. The Kernels were limited to just two total runs and 10 hits over 28 innings of play in this series. Cedar Rapids also committed a season-high four errors in Friday's loss.
Up next, the Kernels continue their six-game road trip with a three-game series at the South Bend Cubs. Saturday's series opener is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET (6:05 p.m. CT), and Kernels right-hander Griffin Jax (1-0, 2.84) will face Cubs right-hander Tyler Peyton (2-3, 4.85). Catch the contest with Chris Kleinhans-Schulz on 1450 KMRY AM and 93.1 KMRY FM and also online at www.kmryradio.com and www.kernels.com.
Cedar Rapids' next homestand starts Wednesday, July 19 and continues through Monday, July 24. 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.