Sam Gibbons and his superstitious 'stache produce a strong outing for Cedar Rapids Kernels

Australian pitcher goes seven innings in C.R. victory

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Keep the razors away from Sam Gibbons. His mustache is back, and it’s not going anywhere.

“It’s going to stay,” the Cedar Rapids Kernels pitcher smiled.

Baseball players being the superstitious creatures they are, they stick with every routine when things are going well. They went really well Friday night for Gibbons, whose seven strong innings allowed the Kernels to beat Bowling Green, 8-2, at the sauna known as Veterans Memorial Stadium.

This Midwest League season has gone nothing like the 22-year-old Australian right-hander could have envisioned. He was terrific last regular season for the Kernels and solid in a pair of playoff starts.

He got assigned back to low-A this season, struggled mightily the first month and was shipped to the bullpen. Essentially the back of the bullpen.

Promotions of others gave Gibbons another crack at the rotation, though he was lit up to the tune of 14 runs in his first two starts. Friday night was prime “Gibby,” as he allowed just one hit through six innings.

“It was my fastball command, I guess,” Gibbons said. “Which I haven’t had the pleasure of having this year. It was good to just get into a routine, I guess. I was able to get into a nice rhythm and get ahead of guys.”

“He did a lot of things he did last year,” Kernels Manager Jake Mauer said. “He threw it over, slowed it down better. He used his mix a lot better. The biggest thing to me was he got a lot of groundballs. He hasn’t been doing that like he did last year. When he gets groundballs, he’s OK. When they make him elevate it, his stuff really isn’t that firm, and he gets hit pretty good. But that was encouraging.”

Gibbons (4-3) labored in the seventh, allowing back-to-back leadoff home runs, but gutted through it for his longest outing of the season. Michael Cederoth and Tom Hackimer finished up, as the Kernels (52-45, 16-12 second half) salvaged the finale of this three-game series.

“Been pretty rough,” Gibbons said. “Going from the starting rotation to the bullpen and then back to the starting rotation. And growing the mustache out again. I had it at the start, got rid of it. It comes back, and I have a good performance.”

Cedar Rapids got three hits offensively from Manuel Guzman and two apiece from Sean Miller, Jaylin Davis and Christian Cavaness. Davis hit a monster-shot three-run homer to dead center in the fifth to break the game open.

Dayton comes to town for three games beginning Saturday night at 6:35.

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

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