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 — The first inning was a disaster for Tyler Beardsley. The rest was disaster relief.
The pitcher made his Cedar Rapids Kernels debut Sunday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Stadium, and it couldn’t have started any worse. The first five Peoria Chiefs reached against him and three scored.
He ended up throwing a stressful 43 pitches. That’s a ton.
But somehow, someway Beardsley pulled it together and made it through five. Sure, he took a 3-2 loss, but ended up feeling pretty good overall about what he accomplished.
“No nerves, but that first inning was rough,” Beardsley said. “I tried to do my best from there to just settle in. The last four innings were definitely a lot better than the first one.”
Beardsley is a 22-year-old right hander that the parent Minnesota Twins drafted in June in the 16th round out of Sacramento State. He got promoted from Rookie-level Elizabethton late last week and thrown into the rotation.
He walked the first Midwest League hitter he faced, speedy Magneuris Sierra, gave up back-to-back singles, then walked two more.
“I thought he was a little excited that first inning, a little nervous,” said Kernels Manager Jake Mauer. “I think things were going a little fast for him. Leadoff walk and a couple of hits after that, and I don’t think he quite knew how to react after that. To his credit, after throwing all those pitches in the first inning, he got us through the fifth. That was pretty good.”
Williams Ramirez began warming in the bullpen in the middle of the Peoria barrage, but Beardsley retired the next three hitters and seven more after that. A one-out walk and bloop single put him in trouble in the fourth, but he pitched around those and went three up, three down in the fifth.
Keep in mind, Beardsley was a reliever his last two years of college and was Sacramento State’s closer this past season. He began his pro career in the bullpen, but the Twins like his four-pitch mix enough to give him a chance to start.
Beardsley’s fastball was mid-90s as a reliever but was generally 92-93 miles per hour Sunday.
“When I first got drafted, I went down to Florida, and the pitching coach told me I was going to be out of the pen,” he said. “I got to E-town and worked out of the pen for two outings, then I got moved into the starting rotation. I enjoy starting. But whatever role I’m in, I’m going to try to do my best ... It’s been an adjustment, I’m trying to get into the groove of things. Hopefully I keep progressing from here.”
The Kernels (60-52 24-19 second half) lost for the fourth consecutive time, unable to completely dig out of their early hole. Sean Miller had a run-scoring single in the third, but Christian Ibarra was thrown out at the plate after an ensuing Luis Arraez hit.
Ibarra homered in the eighth to make it a one-run game. Jaylin Davis walked leading off the ninth but was promptly picked off.
That was crucial because Kevin Garcia and Casey Scoggins had back-to-back, two-out singles. With runners on the corners, Peoria reliever Nick Frey got pinch-hitter Nelson Molina on a routine fly to right to end it and send a tremendous Sunday afternoon crowd of 4,093 home disappointed.
The teams play again Monday night at 6:35.
“We had our fair share of opportunities, had nine hits, but we couldn’t score any runs,” Mauer said. “Frustrating. Couldn’t get that big hit ... Three (runs again) shouldn’t beat you.”
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