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Gordon's bat, glove help Kernels advance

Minnesota's No. 5 prospect helps Cedar Rapids reach MWL Finals
September 13, 2015

With the tying run on base, Nick Gordon started a spectacular defensive play that sent Cedar Rapids to the Midwest League Championship Series.

With two outs and a runner on first in the top of the ninth inning, Steve Bean smacked Yorman Landa's pitch up the middle, but shortstop Gordon made a diving snag off a short hop. From his knees, he flipped to second baseman Rafael Valera, who threw to first for the double play.

"I made sure we got one out, but once we turned the double play, it was amazing," Gordon said. "The atmosphere was amazing. The crowd was going crazy."

The Twins' No. 5 prospect also contributed a game-high three hits, one of them in the Class A Kernels' two-run seventh, en route to Sunday's 5-4 win over the Peoria Chiefs in Game 2 of the semifinals.

With the Kernels trailing in the seventh, 4-3, Gordon led off with a single to left field, stole third base and scored the tying run on a passed ball. Chris Paul's single to left scored T.J. White with the eventual winning run.

"First base was open, our No. 3 hitter was up," Gordon said of his one-out steal. "I knew the pitcher [reliever Sasha Kuebel] wouldn't have to go to the fastball. I read breaking ball out of his hand and got a good jump."

Peoria took a 4-1 lead in the third off Randy Rosario after a two-run error by third baseman T.J. White and a balk.

"As soon as it happened, we shook it off and said, 'OK, guys, let's chip away,'" said Gordon, the 2014 Draft's fifth overall pick. "We knew we would make some things happen."

Austin Diemer collected three hits and two RBIs for the Kernels. Edgar Corcino and Chris Paul added three hits apiece, and Michael Theofanopoulos pitched a scoreless seventh to get the win.

"Everyone is doing their job in the playoffs," said the son of former Major League pitcher Tom Gordon and brother of Marlins second baseman Dee. "I try to get on base for guys behind me, steal some bases, get in scoring position."

Game 1 of the best-of-5 Championship Series will be played Tuesday on the road against the winner of the Lansing-West Michigan series.

In other MWL playoff action:

West Michigan 8, Lansing 3

Joey Pankake collected four hits and finished a triple short of the cycle as the Whitecaps evened the best-of-3 semifinal with the Lugnuts. The second baseman plated two runs and scored twice. No. 10 Tigers prospect Christin Stewart plated two runs and scored another and No. 19 Mike Gerber amassed a triple, two runs and an RBI. The teams meet again Monday night in the decisive third game to determine who heads to the Championship Series. Box score

Andrew Kahn is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AndrewKahn.