Cedar Rapids, IA - In quite possibly one of the most unexpected and bizarre endings to a playoff series, Matt Crawford was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning to score Dwayne Bailey and give the Kernels a 9-8 win over the Peoria Chiefs. The Kernels trailed 8-7 heading into the bottom of the 9th as Peoria reliever Chris Huseby (0-1) walked the bases loaded, then walked Jon Townsend to score pinch runner Mike Trout with the tying run and then hit Crawford to bring home the winning run.
The Chiefs flexed their offensive might early as they roughed up Kernels starter Tyler Chatwood for eight runs (seven earned) on 13 hits over 6.1 innings to take an 8-3 lead. Jovan Rosa was 4-5 with two doubles and 4 RBI and Rebel Ridling was 3-5 with three runs scored. The Kernels chipped away at the Chiefs all night, as Angel Castillo went 2-3 with a solo HR and 2 RBI and Matt Crawford was 1-4 with 2 RBI.
Cedar Rapids cut the lead to 8-7 after a four run bottom of the 7th with four hits off Peoria reliever Aaron Shafer. Relief pitchers Mike Rocco and Vladimir Veras kept the Kernels in the game allowing two hits and striking out four over 2.2 innings of relief as Veras (1-0) picked up the win. Peoria starter Jeff Antigua allowed three runs on nine hits and struck out two over five innings in a no-decision effort.
Castillo, Darwin Perez, Gabe Jacobo, Alexi Amarista, Roberto Lopez, and Beau Brooks each had two hits as the Kernels had 14 hits in the game with Lopez, Jacobo and Amarasta each with a double. The Chiefs were outhitting the Kernels at one point by an 11-2 margin, but the final difference was 15-14 in favor of Peoria.
For the second straight year, the Kernels will face the Burlington Bees in the MWL Western Division Final. The Bees shut out Kane County, 4-0 to sweep their series with the Cougars and are riding an eight game playoff win streak, dating back to 2008. Game one of the best-of-three series will be Saturday night at 6:30 pm in Burlington with game two at Perfect Game Field in Cedar Rapids at 2:05 pm. Game three, if necessary, is Monday, September 14th at 6:35 pm in Cedar Rapids.
The Kernels next home playoff game at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium is Sunday, September 13th at 2:05 pm with the gates opening at 1:00 pm. Tickets may be purchased on-line at www.kernels.com, or by calling the Kernels Ticket Office at 896-7560. The ticket office will be open from 10 am to 5 pm tomorrow; from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday; and opens at 10 am on Sunday morning.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.