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Kernels in Beloit: Game 1 is a big win

Posted by SD Buhr , 12 August 2014 · 555 views

I made the 3+ hour trip to Beloit this week for the Kernels' three-game series with the Snappers.

Cedar Rapids entered the game tied for second place in the MWL Western Division with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, both a single game behind Divison leaders Kane County.

Outside of how it would be nice to be able to say the Twins' Class A club won their Division in the second half of the season, it really doesn't matter where the Kernels finish relative to Kane County because the Cougars won a playoff berth in the first half of the season.

What's important, at this point, is how the Kernels measure up to the Rattlers, as well as Quad Cities and Peoria. The latter two teams trailed the Kernels and Rattlers by 3 games entering Tuesday. Two of those four teams will earn playoff spots. The other two will join Beloit and Clinton on the outside looking in.

Ryan Eades drew the start in the series opener for the Kernels and notched the win as the Kernels topped the Snappers 12-5.

Eades, the Twins' second round pick in the 2013 draft, has had a challenging first full season of professional ball, but he's been having more success lately.

On Tuesday, the first batter he faced, Beloit shortstop Melvin Mercedes lined a ball to right field that hit the top of the right field wall and bounced over for a leadoff solo home run. In the second inning, he gave up a triple to left fielder Ryan Mathews, who then scored the Snappers' second run.

From that point forward, through the remainder of his six innings of work, Eades shut out the Snappers.

Eades' final stat line may not look all that impressive, but I'll say this about Eades: He seems to have a bit of bulldog in him.

Twice on Tuesday night, he worked out of bases-loaded jams that had the potential to allow Beloit to break the game open.

Instead, he got the outs he needed to escape and buy time until his offense beat up on Beloit pitching.

That happened in the fifth and sixth innings, when the Kernels batted around in back-to-back innings and tallied a total of 10 runs, breaking what had been a 2-2 tie and moving in to a commanding 12-2 lead.

Kane County also won on Tuesday, scoring four runs in the 9th inning to top the Quad Cities, 4-3. However, Wisconsin fell to Clinton, 4-2. As a result, the Kernels remain a game behind the Cougars and the Rattlers fell a game behind Cedar Rapids in the standings.

After a series of roster changes, Cedar Rapids is operating one player short of the 25 player limit allowed. The Kernels currently have 13 active pitchers and just 11 active position players, which is not ideal.

"We're something bad happening away from being in trouble," was how Kernels manager Jake Mauer put it after the game, alluding to the fact that he's playing games with just two offensive players on his bench.

Mauer indicated he was not aware of what plans the Twins farm director, Brad Steil, might have with regard to filling the club's 25th spot.

Kohl Stewart could be coming off the Disabled List at any time, according to Mauer, but both Zack Larson and Zack Granite, two outfielders that started the season with Cedar Rapids before incurring injuries, remain at the Twins' training site in Fort Myers nursing those injuries.

Chih-Wei Hu gets the ball for the Kernels on Wednesday and Matt Batts is scheduled to go on Thursday.