116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS – For the first time in almost exactly a month, the Cedar Rapids Kernels are a winning baseball team.
The High-A Central League’s most powerful club had three more home runs, using those and a five-run sixth inning to subdue the South Bend Cubs, 10-2, Saturday night before a season-high crowd of 3,451 fans at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
That’s four wins in a row for the Kernels over South Bend, with one more game left in this six-game series Sunday afternoon at 2:05. Cedar Rapids has won eight of its last 10 games overall.
That surge has allowed it to crawl to 21-20, the first time it has had a record of over .500 since May 18, when it was 7-6.
“About a week ago, we made the comment that we were one game away from being .500, then we dropped a couple in a row,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “The last couple of weeks, we have been playing much better baseball. We have been pitching well, scoring some runs, swinging the bats better than at the beginning of the season. Yeah, just in kind of all aspects of the game, we’re coming together, and we’re winning some ballgames.”
Jair Camargo had a pair of homers in this victory, his prodigious two-run shot opposite field capping the Kernels’ fifth-inning splurge. Camargo had a solo oppo blast to right in the second, but his second one against South Bend starting pitcher Ryan Jensen (a first-round draft pick of the parent Chicago Cubs in 2019) sailed over the 390-foot sign in right-center, measured at 433 feet with an exit velocity of 111 miles per hour.
Kaboom. This was Camargo’s second two-homer game of the short season.
Spencer Steer followed with a no-doubter of his own to left field in the seventh, his team-leading 10th this season, which ranks second in the league by one. C.R.’s regular second baseman and leadoff hitter, he had just 12 home runs in three full seasons of college baseball at the University of Oregon.
Steer had four home runs in 64 games as a rookie pro in 2019. He has eight homers in 17 games in June.
What a stretch.
“Just a lot of hard work in the offseason,” Steer said. “I took advantage of that time during COVID to, one, work on my body and get stronger and get into better shape. And, two, it’s been all the work I’ve been doing with hitting coach Bryce Berg. I’ve been working on using my legs in my swing more. That’s kind of been the mission ever since I was drafted was finding a way to use my legs in my swing because we knew the power was in there. It was just trying to figure out how to unlock that. Find a swing that is consistent and repeatable. It’s starting to click, I think.”
The Kernels have 56 homers in 41 games, far and away the league’s highest total. They are on a franchise-record home-run pace, despite only having 120 games this season, as opposed to the regular 140.
Tyler Palm (1-4) was credited with the pitching victory in an uplifting relief appearance. Palm didn’t give up a hit or run in 2 1/3 innings, striking out five.
The right-hander came into the game with an earned run average of 10.05 in eight previous appearances.
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