A big Fourth of July comeback win for Cedar Rapids Kernels

Down 5-0, they rally for 6-5 win before 5,576 fans

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Not exactly the best recipe for success, but whatever.

The Cedar Rapids Kernels fell behind by five runs early Monday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium but scored the final six to knock off Wisconsin, 6-5, before 5,576 Fourth of July fans.

“The environment helped tonight,” said Kernels catcher Brian Olson said. “The Fourth of July, having all the fans here, that was huge for us. I feel like they kind of boosted us, especially in the later innings.”

Olson fell behind Wisconsin relief pitcher Nathan Griep, 0-2, but battled and eventually lofted a two-run, game-winning double to dead center in the eighth inning. The Kernels had runners at first and third with one out at the time.

“He threw me changeup, breaking ball the first two pitches,” Olson said. “After he got ahead, he threw a fastball in that I fouled off. I don’t know if I hurt somebody in the stands or not. Hopefully not. After that, I was obviously anticipating fastball a little bit because I was late on that one. I figured he’d come back in with it. I just told myself to get on top of the fastball.”

As Olson mentioned, he swung late at an 0-2 heater and fouled off a hot shot that deflected off a fan seated along the first-base side. His winner came a couple of pitches later.

“He stayed with it, stayed positive,” said Kernels Manager Jake Mauer. “I thought he did a pretty good job behind the plate tonight. He worked hard back there getting our guy through five ... Those are some of the things that don’t necessarily show up in the boxscore. He hung in there, and that was huge for us.”

Kernels starting pitcher Sam Clay was roughed up for two runs in the first and third innings and one in the second. He persevered, throwing shutout frames in the fourth and fifth.

Sam Gibbons (3-3) was huge, throwing 3 1/3 shutout relief innings for the victory. He departed with one out and none on in the ninth, with Kuo Hua Lo pitching around a single and walk to pick up his third save.

Cedar Rapids is 42-39 overall, 6-6 in the Midwest League’s Western Division second half. The teams play again Tuesday night at 6:35.

“That is correct. We didn’t quit,” Mauer said. “That’s how we’re going to be. We’re going to have to win ugly, grind things out.”

The Kernels went 2-5 on a road trip that concluded with a loss Sunday night at Beloit in which the Snappers broke a 1-1 tie with seven seventh-inning runs. That’s tough.

“We got back at two in the morning, got beat up pretty good up there,” Mauer said. “Gave up seven in the seventh inning last night ... Sometimes you feel like you should worry about it because losses don’t really bother these guys. They’re so loose, but that’s because of the characters we have. They are able to bounce back.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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