Basically a whole new team, but C.R. Kernels a winner in 2nd-half opener

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The earliest review of the new-look Cedar Rapids Kernels is a positive one.

They scored five times in the second inning and bested Beloit, 5-1, Thursday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium in the second-half opener.

This isn’t an entirely new team from the one that finished in third place in the Midwest League’s Western Division first half, but there are plenty of new faces. Plenty of new old faces, to be completely accurate.

Outfielder Austin Diemer and catcher Rainis Silva played parts of last season here. They had a combined three hits, a walk, a run and an RBI in their re-debuts.

Another new old face, Brian Olson, caught a clean game and an effective one, obviously, as pitchers Miles Nordgren, Michael Cederoth and Kuo Hua Lo combined on a three-hitter. If you didn’t hear, they are all in town because of the promotions to high-Class A of outfielder LaMonte Wade and catcher A.J. Murray, C.R.’s third and fourth hitters in the lineup most of the first half.

“Overall, it was a good start to the second half,” said Manager Jake Mauer. “This is part of the deal. You can’t expect everybody to stay here the whole season. But I don’t think I expected this many to be gone by this point. Part of it is need, part of it is what’s happening in Minnesota, unfortunately.”

Promotions also came to starting pitcher Fernando Romero and reliever Michael Theofanopoulos. They’ve been replaced on the roster by 19-year-old Australian lefty Lachlan Wells (who will start Sunday) and Tom Hackimer, the parent Minnesota Twins’ fourth-round draft pick last week.

How crazy is this? Third baseman Chris Ibarra was playing independent ball in the American Association a couple of weeks ago, but was the Kernels’ leadoff hitter Thursday night.

“This is a good opportunity for guys,” Mauer said. “We look a lot different. But different isn’t always bad. We’re going to have some inexperience, some ugly nights. But we’re going to be better as we go along here.”

Cedar Rapids (37-33 overall) bunched four hits, a couple of walks, a hit batter and an error to score all of its runs in one inning. It didn’t do much offensively after that, but didn’t have to because of the effectiveness of starting pitcher Nordgren (3-3), who went the first six innings.

“Tonight we jumped up them there in that second inning, strung together a lot of good at-bats,” said Kernels outfielder Brad Hartong, who went 2-for-3 with a run and RBI. “I think the second half we’re going to have to do that a lot. Feed off of each other instead of relying on LaMonte and A.J. It’s going to be more of a team effort.”

The teams play again Friday night at 6:35. Before Thursday night’s game, the Kernels announced the winners of the 2016 Nick Adenhart Memorial Scholarship.

Adenhart was a former Kernels pitcher whose car was hit and he was killed by a drunken driver early in his career with the Los Angeles Angels. Adenhart’s family has put together the scholarship, with was won by Cedar Rapids Jefferson’s Jared Eivins and Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Kelsey Wenger.

Eivins will attend Kirkwood Community College, Wenger Coe College. They each will receive $1,000.

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