116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Two weeks to go in the regular season, and the Cedar Rapids Kernels are looking all right. Better than all right.
A 12-2 pounding of Beloit before 3,715 fans Sunday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Stadium was C.R.'s fourth straight victory. The Kernels have won five of six games and eight of 10.
You want to try and peak right now, with the Midwest League playoffs right around the corner. It appears this club is doing just that.
'We're in a lot better place than we were a couple of weeks ago,' said Manager Tommy Watkins. 'I've felt like we're starting to look good, starting to put things together.'
Cedar Rapids (67-59, 28-28) clinched a postseason spot in the first half, then endured immediate player promotions in the second half. Four important position players moved up to high-Class A Fort Myers.
The active roster has seen a lot of changes.
'It's a totally different feel right now than when we started the second half,' said catcher Caleb Hamilton. 'We had guys moving in and out, guys moving up, guys moving down. Obviously in the first half, we jelled really well, got things rolling. When that happens, things kind of fall into place. This is a good group of guys. We all get along well. We take care of stuff on the field and off the field, too. I think we're just going to keep rolling. It's been pretty fun.'
It was a ton of fun Sunday, with the Kernels posting 23 hits. Every starter had at least one, with eight of the nine having at least two.
Outfielder Shane Carrier went 2-for-5 with a home run to extend his hitting streak to 25 games. That includes all 13 games he has played since being sent back here from Rookie-level Elizabethton two weeks ago.
'I think we're rolling really well,' said outfielder Aaron Whitefield. 'There have been a few guys going in and out here and there in the second half, so we really couldn't settle (in). But I think we're at the stage now where we're settled and we're ready to play the rest of the regular season and those playoff games.'
First-overall draft pick Royce Lewis certainly has helped the cause since being assigned here a little over a week ago. The 18-year-old shortstop had four singles Sunday, his second four-hit game here.
He's played only eight games for the Kernels and has a .400 average.
'He hasn't tried to do too much, on either side of the ball,' Watkins said. 'Just tries to stay within himself, tries to hit the ball back up the middle.'
Starter Tyler Beardsley (4-7) went the first six innings, allowing eight hits and a run to get the win. The teams conclude their four-game series Monday at noon.
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