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CEDAR RAPIDS — All baseball roads lead back to Eastern Iowa.
At least they have for the Lake County Captains. They’re here to play a series against the Cedar Rapids Kernels, providing a sort of homecoming for four guys associated with the club.
Captains shortstop Luke Wakamatsu is the son of former Cedar Rapids Reds player and major league manager Don Wakamatsu. The cheers you heard for him Wednesday night during the Kernels’ 6-3 win at Veterans Memorial Stadium were from his mom, Laura (a Cedar Rapids Jefferson graduate), his sister, Jadyn, his grandma and aunt, all of whom were in attendance.
“My dad lived in one of these houses close to here,” he said, pointing past the outfield fence. “It’s unbelievable. This is where my parents met. Just a small world.”
Lake County relief pitcher Michael Letkewicz is from Waterloo Columbus and was drafted last year by the parent Cleveland Indians out of Augustana University in South Dakota. He threw a scoreless relief inning in this one.
Matthew Beauregard is the Captains’ trainer. He’s from Center Point and graduated from Iowa State.
Then there’s Lake County hitting coach Justin Toole, who jokingly claims he never talks to Beauregard. That’s because he played for the rival Iowa Hawkeyes.
Toole was an infielder in the Indians system from 2009 to 2015 before transitioning to the other side of the game.
“Kind of growing up, my whole life everyone has told me ‘You’re going to be a coach,’” Toole said. “I never really thought much of it. My free-agent year, the Indians called me and told me ‘Hey, we’re not going to offer you a contract, but we have a coaching spot we want you to take.’ I wasn’t sure if I was ready to take it, kind of said I wanted to keep playing and see what my options were. Once I got all my options, I kind of felt that was my best opportunity.”
Toole was with short-season-A Mahoning Valley in his first season and got the promotion to low-A this season.
“I feel like my whole life has kind of led into coaching,” he said. “With my dad being a coach and my parents both being teachers, I got brought up in a coaching-teaching environment. I feel like this has been a perfect fit. It has been a lot of fun. I’ve really, really enjoyed it. I feel like I’m in the right place, doing the right thing.”
The Kernels (15-10) received seven strong innings from starting pitcher Tyler Beardsley (3-1) to win their third straight. He allowed five hits and three runs, striking out seven.
Shane Carrier and Ben Rortvedt each had two-run doubles for Cedar Rapids. The teams play again Thursday night at 6:35.
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