Cedar Rapids, IA – Behind an Emmanuel Rodriguez grand slam in the top of the second inning, Cedar Rapids opened a 5-0 lead it would never lose Wednesday night as the Kernels knocked off Great Lakes 7-6 in the winner-take-all game three of the Midwest League Championship to win the
Cedar Rapids, IA – Behind an Emmanuel Rodriguez grand slam in the top of the second inning, Cedar Rapids opened a 5-0 lead it would never lose Wednesday night as the Kernels knocked off Great Lakes 7-6 in the winner-take-all game three of the Midwest League Championship to win the franchise’s first league title since 1994.
In the continuation of the suspended game two of the series from Tuesday night, Great Lakes scored twice in the sixth inning en route to a 4-2 win to force a winner-take-all game three of the championship series. After a scoreless top of the first inning in game three, Cedar Rapids climbed on the board first in the home half. Singles by Noah Miller and Kala’i Rosario put runners on the corners for Andrew Cossetti, who opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly.
An inning later, the Kernels grew their largest lead of the night. Walks of Luke Keaschall, Noah Cardenas and Carson McCusker loaded the bases with two outs for Emmanuel Rodriguez, who crushed a grand slam over the wall in right field to extend the Cedar Rapids advantage to 5-0.
In just a seven-inning game, Great Lakes trailed 5-0 entering the top of the fourth inning but refused to go away. With one out, Dalton Rushing walked and moved into scoring position on a passed ball for Alex Freeland, who got the Loons on the board with an RBI single.
In the top of the fifth, Jake Vogel reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to second on an error. A batter later, a Taylor Young single scored Vogel to make it 5-2. After the next batter, Yeiner Fernandez singled, two were on base for Rushing, who doubled to score Young, and on the play, Fernandez came home on an error to cut the Kernels lead down to just one at 5-4.
In search of insurance, the Kernels got some in the bottom of the fifth frame. A Rodriguez walk, Rosario single and Jorel Ortega walk loaded the bases for Keaschall, who worked a walk to produce a run. Behind him, Noah Cardenas notched a sacrifice fly to open the lead back up to three at 7-4.
That was the tally until the top of the seventh when a Rushing two-run home run brought Great Lakes back within a run at 7-6, but John Stankiewicz got the next batter to fly out as the Kernels clinched their first Midwest League title since 1994.
The title breaks a 29-year championship drought and is the first for the Kernels as a Twins affiliate. Cedar Rapids finishes the year with a total record of 86-52 and with division titles in both halves of the regular season, the West Division postseason championship and the league championship.