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CEDAR RAPIDS – There was a chance Logan Wade could have been a member of the Geelong Cats right now instead of the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
The infielder grew up adoring rugby, a sport that’s popular in his native Australia. You can morph from it into the similar, yet different Australian rules football.
The Australian Football League was first introduced television-wise in the United States about three decades ago by ESPN. Top players can earn a million bucks or more a season.
“It could have gone that way. Who knows?” Wade said, after his Kernels swept a double-header from Kane County, 5-2 and 5-4 Thursday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “But baseball won over.”
From Brisbane, Australia, Wade said his rugby games in high school could draw as many as 10,000 to 20,000 fans. But rugby season and baseball season began to overlap, and the 22-year-old was forced to choose which sport he would continue to pursue.
A shoulder injury incurred playing rugby was a factor. His father being a professional baseball scout was not.
Greg Wade scouted Australia and the Pacific Rim for the Toronto Blue Jays for 25 years.
“He kind of told me what pro ball was about,” Logan said. “He kind of helped me along the way, but he never pushed me. He was very laid back about it, but gave me the right tips about it. I didn’t really bloom (as a baseball player) until I was 18 or 19.”
Wade said he played in a four-day tournament back home in 2012 and garnered the attention of the Twins, who signed him as an international free agent in April of that year. The switch-hitter had a pair of doubles in Thursday’s nightcap, including one in the sixth inning that scored a pair of go-ahead runs to break a 3-3 tie.
“Just one of those days where you’ve just got to dig deep,” Wade said. “You’re playing two games, and you’ve got to go and try and win both. You win two, it’s a bonus.”
Kernels Manager Jake Mauer was impressed with Wade’s winning hit. It came from the right side and was a bullet against losing relief pitcher Gerardo Concepcion just fair down the left-field line.
Kane County scored a run in the seventh, but winner Hudson Boyd (3-1) stranded the tying run at third, with third baseman Bryan Haar making a strong off-balance throw to first for the final out after fielding Yasiel Balaguert’s slow chopper.
“That second game was really back and forth, back and forth,” Mauer said. “We hung in there. Logan had that big double down the line there. That was a big at-bat. I think it was a fastball in, and he really turned on it. Stayed inside of it and kept it fair. We needed both of those runs.”
Starting pitcher Kohl Stewart, the Twins’ No. 1 draft pick last year, deserved better than the no decision he got, allowing just three hits and an earned run in 5.2 innings. Kane County (18-9) scored a pair of unearned runs against him.
In the first game, the Kernels (15-11) scored three go-ahead runs in the fifth inning. Mitch Garver had a run-scoring double and Ivory Thomas a sacrifice fly.
Cedar Rapids won three of four games against the Midwest League Western Division leader to creep within 2.5 games of it. The Kernels begin a three-game series Friday night against the Peoria Chiefs, the low-Class A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The game will be televised live on KCRG-9.2.
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