116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DAVENPORT — One win from a championship.
The Cedar Rapids Kernels hit four home runs and waited out a lengthy rain delay early to beat the Quad Cities River Bandits, 8-4, Friday night in Game 3 of the High-A Central League Championship Series at Modern Woodmen Park.
Cedar Rapids has a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 scheduled Saturday night at 6:30 here. An if-necessary Game 5 would be Sunday night at 6:30.
“We really want to get it done tomorrow,” said Kernels catcher Alex Isola. “I think the guys have a sense of urgency. But we never count our chickens before they’re hatched. We’re going to go out and basically do the same thing we’ve done all year. Prepare the same and hopefully take it to them.”
The Kernels were shut out in Wednesday night’s Game 2 at Cedar Rapids but got a two-run home run in the top of the second inning from DaShawn Keirsey Jr. for a 2-1 lead they’d never relinquish. A four spot in the fourth was punctuated by an Edouard Julien solo homer and a three-run shot by Isola for a 6-1 lead.
Julien had another solo homer in the sixth.
“They had some good pitching the other day, and baseball’s a game where that can happen,” Isola said. “Sometimes the bats just don’t get going. But I think we did a good job of not really looking into that. We stick to our game plan and know that some days it’s just not going to be there. Today we were fortunate, I thought we executed well, and the hits fell. It was good.”
The teams had to wait out an hour and a half rain delay that began in the top of the third. The Kernels had the bases loaded at the time, but a strikeout and lineout ended that threat.
Starter Casey Legumina was lifted after the rain delay, meaning the Kernels had to piece together this victory pitching wise. Aaron Rozek got the victory with two relief innings.
He was followed by Derek Molina (2 1/3 innings) and Carlos Suniaga (2 2/3 scoreless innings). Sawyer Gipson-Long (3-3, 4.56 ERA in six regular-season starts) gets the ball in Game 4 for Cedar Rapids, which is seeking its first league championship since 1994.
“The guys swung the bats well tonight,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “I think the boys can sense a little bit of excitement now. Hopefully we’ll win one more ballgame and ... win a title.”
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