CEDAR RAPIDS - The Cedar Rapids Titans and Sioux Falls Storm have met in the conference title game in each of the past four seasons.
If the Titans have any hope to make it five, they will need to dig out of an ever-increasing hole.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Kernels Manager Jake Mauer called it his team’s “M.O.” after the game.
The Kernels were undone by a five-run Wisconsin seventh inning and lost for the 17th time in 24 games, 8-5, before 2,099 fans last night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“We’ve been getting beat by big innings,” Mauer said. “Gave up that five spot, just unable to get anything going.”
Staked to an early 3-0 lead, it appeared that Cedar Rapids starting pitcher Ryan Eades was on track to end his three-game losing streak after giving up a run on two hits through four innings. However, Eades’ fielding error on a sacrifice bunt helped load the bases with one out in the fifth. Two batters later, Wisconsin cleanup batter Jose Pena ripped a tying two-run single up the middle.
“It’s a shame, Eades kept us in it,” Mauer said. “He did fine, gave them a couple of extra outs. Walked a couple of guys that hurt a little bit.”
Catcher Michael Quesada gave the Kernels a brief 5-3 lead with a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning. Quesada, who entered the game hitting a team-low .159 in 21 games, finished with a season-high three hits.
“It’s a shame, I thought we had that two-run lead,” Mauer said. “We were in pretty good shape, but the bullpen couldn’t hold it.”
Reliever Chris Mazza (0-1) took the loss, giving up five hits and four earned runs in just 1 1/3 innings pitched. Wisconsin starter Taylor Williams (2-1) earned the win despite being on the hook for eight hits and five runs in six innings.
Designated hitter Mitch Garver drove in his team-high 34th run of the season with a first-inning double, while Engelb Vielma added an RBI single for Cedar Rapids (25-29).
Mauer confirmed that left fielder J.D. Williams will likely miss some time after twisting his knee while chasing down Steven Halcomb’s two-run double which provided the game’s final margin in the pivotal seventh inning.
The rubber game of the series is tonight at 6:35.
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