COMSTOCK PARK, MICH. - The Cedar Rapids Kernels snapped a 24-inning scoring drought and a no-hit bid Thursday at Fifth Third Ballpark, but the West Michigan Whitecaps claimed a 3-2 victory in 10 innings on a walk-off double by Danny Pinero. The Whitecaps also secured a 2-0 series advantage heading into the series finale Friday.
Pinero ended Thursday's tilt with an extra-inning extra-base hit. Hector Lujan started the bottom of the 10th by striking out Anthony Pereira, but Austin Athmann reached on an error. Pinero batted next and doubled to drive in Athmann, who scored on a close play at home plate.
West Michigan's Alfred Gutierrez and Cedar Rapids' Evan Sanders were locked into a pitchers' duel to begin the contest. Gutierrez carried a no-hitter through the fifth inning. He retired the first seven batters before walking Gorge Munoz in the third and then set down the next eight hitters in a row. Sanders opened with four shutout innings to start the longest outing of his professional career.
The Whitecaps (15-5, 60-27) scored on Sanders in the fifth for a 1-0 lead. Cole Bauml hit a leadoff single, and David Gonzalez extended the inning with a single of his own. Derek Hill drew a walk to load the bases, and Danny Woodrow walked to force in Bauml. Tyler Beardsley replaced Sanders and induced a groundout to end the frame.
Cedar Rapids (10-11, 49-42) quickly responded and surged in front, 2-1, during the sixth. Munoz broke up the no-hitter with a solo home run to left field. Two batters later, Aaron Whitefield reached on a walk. An error allowed Travis Blankenhorn to get on base and push Whitefield to third. Lewin Diaz followed with a sacrifice fly that drove in Whitefield.
In the bottom of the eighth, West Michigan tied the contest at 2-2. Athmann recorded a one-out single and moved into scoring position after a two-out single by Bauml. Lujan relieved Beardsley but gave up a game-tying single to Zac Shepherd. On the same play, Bauml was thrown out at third base for the third out. The contest remained tied until West Michigan's walk-off finish in the 10th.
John Schreiber (4-1) tossed two scoreless innings of relief and earned the victory. Lujan (3-1) was charged with a blown save and the loss Thursday.
This three-game series wraps up Friday at 7:00 p.m. ET (6:00 p.m. CT) with Kernels right-hander Clark Beeker (8-2, 2.71) scheduled to start against Whitecaps left-hander Gregory Soto (7-1, 2.64) in a battle of Midwest League All-Stars. Chris Kleinhans-Schulz will call the contest 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.