Kernels drop Fort Wayne, 4-1, hit the road ... hard

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CEDAR RAPIDS — First-year guys double up, veterans get a seat section to themselves.

Some bring their own pillows and have designs on getting to sleep right away. Others don’t and don’t.

The Cedar Rapids Kernels finished off a week-long homestand Sunday with a 4-1 win over Fort Wayne at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Then they packed their gear and hit the road.

The destination was Dayton, Ohio, where they play a three-game series against the Dayton Dragons. Game one is Monday night.

Think about that for a minute. Hop on your bus at 6:30 p.m., drive 500 miles, arrive at your destination about 2:30 a.m., which is actually 3:30 a.m. with the change to Eastern Standard Time.

Then it’s check into your hotel, try and get a little rest and play a game 14 hours later. Welcome to the minor leagues, boys.

“Maybe watch a little TV or a movie, whatever is going on,” said Kernels pitcher Clark Beeker of his bus plans. “Then try to fall asleep as soon as possible.”

“My plan is to stay up as long as I can, then sleep, maybe, the last three hours,” said Kernels outfielder Christian Cavaness. “Then get off the bus and pass right back out. That is my goal.”

Cavaness is a second-year Kernel, so he’s used to the grind. But even he admitted this road trip will be tough.

“I think this is going to be the worst one. Both cities are far apart from each other, too,” he said. “But it’s all good. Get it out of the way. Get it out of the way before bus rides start irritating people.”

After the series against Dayton, the Kernels drive four hours to Bowling Green, Ky., for three games against the Hot Rods, beginning Thursday. That’s back to the Central Time Zone, by the way.

The final game of that series is Saturday night at 7. At its conclusion, it’ll be back to Cedar Rapids, a mere nine-hour trip home.

At least Sunday is a day off.

“I might get off the bus and go play golf,” Kernels Manager Tommy Watkins said.

The Kernels (17-12) head east after pulling into a tie with Kane County for first place in the Midwest League’s Western Division. Beeker allowed just four hits and a run over six innings, and Cavaness drove in a pair of runs to win this one.

Beeker improved his record to 4-1 and his earned run average to 1.65 in a handful of starts. The right-hander from Davidson College has a fastball that’s only upper-80s, but he mixes well and throws his offspeed pitches for strikes.

“Numbers wise, no complaints,” he said. “Just been on the same page with all of our catchers, for the most part. Doing a good job of mixing up most of my pitches. Trying to keep the hitters off balance.”

Cedar Rapids went 4-2 on its homestand, losing to Fort Wayne by a run and in extra innings to Lake County. Not bad.

“I thought we played well,” Watkins said. “Had a chance to win every game. That’s all we can ask for.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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