Gallant making most of what could be last chance

Kernels beat Lake County in 11 innings

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CEDAR RAPIDS – He’s realistic about his age, as it compares to everyone else on the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

“I’m the grandpa of the team,” said relief pitcher Dallas Gallant.

In the world of professional baseball at the low-Class A level, 25 years old is downright ancient. Shoot, the guy was drafted way back in 2010.

Yet Friday night’s outing — two shutout innings in the Kernels’ 6-5, 11-inning win over Lake County — was just the 50th of Gallant’s career. That’s not many for someone who has never gotten a pro start.

There are reasons for that, injury being the biggest. A right-hander from Sam Houston State University, Gallant had Tommy John elbow surgery in 2011 and ulnar transposition elbow surgery in March 2013.

Then there is the 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball he incurred at the start of this season for testing positive for an amphetamine.

“I’ve really kind of put that in the past,” said Gallant, whose team won when Logan Wade was ruled to have evaded a tag at home plate after a grounder to third base. “Just a mistake that happens. Not as bad as it seems, (with) the PED suspension, the 50 games and everything. It’s just done and over with, and I don’t think about it anymore.”

Gallant initially found out about his positive test late last season as a member of the Kernels. He appealed, but learned a month into the offseason that it had been denied.

He sat in Minnesota Twins minor league extended spring training in Florida until his time was served, then was assigned back to Cedar Rapids in mid-June.

“I had the date marked on the calendar, barring any rainouts or anything like that. It stayed on track,” Gallant said. “When May 25 got here, it was just a huge weight lifted off my chest. It was like ‘All right, let’s get going.’ I waited for a spot, it was here, and I’m trying to make the best of my opportunity and show (the Twins) they didn’t make a mistake by keeping me around.”

He has been dominant in eight appearances, yet to allow a run in 10 2/3 innings. He struck out five Friday night to bring that season total to 14.

His stuff is good, his elbow his good, and his appreciation for getting what may be a final chance is more than good.

“Everything’s great now,” Gallant said. “It feels fantastic. I’ve been healthy for the whole season now, and it’s about getting more innings, getting more comfortable being out there and everything. Just playing real games is the best part.”

“The Twins have been fantastic. Any other organization … going through two surgeries and the suspension and being older and everything, it would have been easy to say ‘All right, we’re going to cut ties with you.’ But they didn’t.”

The Kernels (45-52, 14-13) took a 5-1 lead into the seventh inning, only to have Lake County tie it on a two-out, two-run home run by Mike Papi. He was a first-round supplement pick, 38th overall, by the Cleveland Indians in June.

Michael Quesada’s three-run homer in the fourth gave Cedar Rapids the lead. Wade doubled with one out in the 11th against losing reliever Carlos Melo, went to third on Chad Christensen’s infield hit and scored, albeit disputedly, on Mitch Garver’s groundball.

wade was beaten to the plate by Lake County third baseman Grant Fink’s throw. Catcher Richard Stock and Manager Mark Budzinski protested vehemently to no avail.

Fort Wayne comes to town for a three-game series that begins Saturday at 5:05 p.m.

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