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CEDAR RAPIDS — You had to figure a pretty whacky game had to end in a pretty whacky way. This one did.
Luis Arraez scored from third base on a two-out wild pitch to give the Cedar Rapids Kernels a 9-8 12-inning win Wednesday night over Wisconsin at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Arraez walked on four pitches leading off the Cedar Rapids 12th. He was bunted ahead to second base by Zander Wiel (the team’s cleanup hitter, of all things).
After an intentional walk to Nelson Molina, J.J. Fernandez grounded out, moving the runners up a base. With newcomer Jaylin Davis at the plate, Wisconsin reliever Alex Farina threw a breaking ball in the dirt that squeezed through the legs of catcher Mitch Ghelfi just far enough for Arraez to slide home safely.
“We wanted him to take a chance,” said Kernels Manager Jake Mauer. “The way it’s been going for us, we’ve haven’t been getting too many hits with guys on third. We got a pretty good bounce, five-holed the guy, and that was the one we need. It was huge.”
The Kernels seemed to have a nice, fairly tidy win in hand, leading heading to the ninth, 7-5. But Kuo Hua Lo found the strike zone difficult to throw into, walking back-to-back guys on nine pitches with one out.
After a visit to the mound from pitching coach J.P. Martinez, Lo indeed located the zone but not in a good way, serving up a three-run home run to right field on the first pitch to Wisconsin’s Mitch Ghelfi. The blast put the Timber Rattlers suddenly on top, 8-7.
Cedar Rapids did not die in the bottom of the ninth, however. Jermaine Palacios singled to left with one out, went to second on Sean Miller’s two-out infield hit up the middle and scored on a clutch Arraez single up the middle.
That was the fourth hit and fourth RBI of the night for Arraez, who has raised his average to .333.
“No matter where you put him, he hits,” Mauer said. “He’s batting third tonight. Shows you how smart I am because I’ve hit him ninth earlier in the season. He just battles, battles his tail off.”
Sean Miller drove in C.R.’s other four runs: on a second-inning double and a three-run home run onto the porch in left in the seventh. That latter hit put the Kernels on top, 7-5.
Isan Diaz had homers in back-to-back at-bats in the fourth and sixth to help Wisconsin take a 5-4 lead. The Timber Rattlers actually went ahead with three straight two-out hits against Kernels reliever Anthony McIver.
He came on to relieve starter Eduardo Del Rosario with no one out in the inning. Del Rosario ended up allowing eight hits and three runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Outfielder Davis made his Kernels debut, going 0-for-4 with a walk. He joined the club Wednesday from Rookie-level Elizabethton, replacing outfielder Brad Hartong, who was promoted to high-Class A Fort Myers.
The teams conclude their four-game series Thursday night at 6:35.
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