Minor League Sports

Robby Rinn comes through with winning hit in 1st game as Cedar Rapids Kernels

His 8th-inning double gives C.R. a 6-5 victory over Wisconsin

CEDAR RAPIDS — He is 25 years old, will be 26 in October. That’s ancient in the Midwest League.

But Robby Rinn is getting an opportunity, and that’s all he ever could ask.

The newest Cedar Rapids Kernels player had a go-ahead RBI double in the eighth inning to give his team a 6-5, come-from-behind win over Wisconsin before 964 fans Tuesday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Rinn arrived in town from Minnesota Twins extended spring training in Florida around midnight Tuesday, was plopped right into the lineup at first base and made an impression.

“He knows how to handle the bat,” said Kernels Manager Toby Gardenhire. “He’s not a guy who is going to get fooled a lot. He has good at-bats, doesn’t chase a lot of pitches. The guy hung a breaking ball (on his winning hit), and he’s the type of guy who will hit a hanging breaking ball.”

Rinn spent about 10 days in early May with high-Class A Fort Myers. Acquired from the Kansas City Royals for cash in the offseason, the Rhode Island native got a later start in his baseball career because of a post-graduate year at a prep school in Massachusetts.

He was a hockey player there who considered playing junior, the level of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. But it didn’t work out, and he ended up playing hardball at Bryant University in his home state.

The Royals drafted him in 2016. He tore it up last year in Rookie ball, though, again, he was an older player.

“I had a lot of concussions, a few injuries, so it got to the point where it was just smarter for me to walk away from hockey,” Rinn said. “A pretty serious injury in my wrist. It just didn’t work out. Obviously it’s a great sport. It’s why I got set up with Bryant late, got into baseball late. That’s just kind of the way it’s always been.”

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The Kernels (24-25) rallied from a late 5-2 hole. Royce Lewis had a two-run double and Alex Kirilloff an ensuing two-out RBI single to tie the game.

In the eighth, Jean Carlos Arias singled up the middle leading off and stole second. Ben Rortvedt moved him to third with a grounder to the right side, and Rinn drove a pitch against losing reliever Gabe Frieser (1-3) oppo over Wisconsin left fielder Demi Orimoloye.

“Ben got the runner over, which puts me in a great position,” Rinn said. “The idea is just to get the sac fly and get the runner in. I got lucky, he left one up in the zone, and I happened to get more behind it and beat the guy out there. Credit there goes to Ben for putting me in that situation, which was awesome.”

Reliever Melvi Acosta (1-1) picked up the pitching win for Cedar Rapids, retiring all 10 batters he faced. The teams play again Wednesday at noon.

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

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