CEDAR RAPIDS — Someone’s got to knock Casey Scoggins down a peg or two because he’s getting a big head.
Actually that was a giant-sized cardboard cutout of the Cedar Rapids Kernels outfielder’s mug that made an appearance in the stands Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium. His mom, Christine, is in town from Florida and brought it with her.
“My first road trip, to Lake County, my cousins got it made and brought it to the ballpark,” Scoggins said, after his team’s 7-3 win over Burlington before 3,897 fans on fireworks night. “They kept it. I told them not to bring it, but I guess they like embarrassing me. I didn’t see them hold it up, I just knew they had it because I saw it in the car.”
Scoggins played an important role in a pair of late three-run innings that allowed Cedar Rapids to claim its second game in a row in this important three-game series. The teams play again Sunday afternoon at 2:05.
He blooped a single to left field to score the tying run in a three-run seventh, then singled sharply up the middle to score a run in a three-run eighth. The Kernels (68-56, 32-23 second half) are four games up on Burlington now for the first of two available second-half playoff spots in the Midwest League’s Western Division.
The teams each have 15 regular-season games left.
“These first two wins are huge for us,” said Scoggins, who also starred defensively by laying out for a catch in the left-center gap to rob Burlington’s Jared Walsh of a hit in the top of the seventh. “We’ve just got to take it one game at a time here and continue to play good baseball. Can’t give any away.”
“We’ve grinded them out, really, these last two nights,” Kernels Manager Jake Mauer said.
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Burlington scored the game’s first two runs, with C.R. getting one back in the fifth on a two-out J.J. Fernandez RBI single. Bees reliever Jhonny Polanco’s extreme wildness played a huge part in the seventh-inning rally, as he hit two batters, walked three and allowed Scoggins’ hit.
Bases-loaded walks to Brandon Lopez and Zander Wiel put the Kernels up, 4-2. Reliever Max Cordy pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the eighth to preserve a one-run lead, then Cedar Rapids put the game on ice in the bottom half thanks to run-scoring hits from Fernandez (off the third-base bag) and Scoggins and a run-scoring groundout by Lopez.
“(Hitting) with runners in scoring position has kind of been our problem this year,” Mauer said. “For them to take walks and not try to do too much was really important, especially in that game.”
Michael Cederoth (3-0) got the pitching win, looking strong in his 2 1/3 innings out of the bullpen. Every Kernels starter reached either via hit or walk.
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