116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Kernels sent their fans out – perhaps – with a thriller Sunday afternoon. And a heartbreaker.
John Rave’s two-out, two-strike single to center field scored a pair of runs as Quad Cities ruined the regular-season finale at Veterans Memorial Stadium, 6-4. A good crowd of 2,385 showed up on a perfect day weather wise.
You can’t completely say this was the finale at The Popper since the Kernels are tied for second place overall in the High-A Central League with Great Lakes. The top two teams in the league will play for the league championship via a best-of-5 series.
Quad Cities (70-36) has one of the two spots wrapped. Cedar Rapids heads to the road for its final 12 games, six-game series at Wisconsin and Peoria, in that order.
“These last couple of days have made it feel like a playoff atmosphere a little bit, just to play against Quad Cities,” Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman said. “I do think the boys are excited. That’s why you play the games, for the competition, the chance at the end of the year to play for something. It makes it feel like the games are more fun. The boys are into it, and we’ll see how these two weeks go on the road. Hopefully we can give ourselves a chance.”
The Kernels (59-49) split six games here against one of the top clubs in all of the the minor leagues, which is good. Quad Cities led this game, 4-0, in the fourth inning, with Cedar Rapids rallying to tie it on a two-run double in the seventh by Jeferson Morales.
The ball literally plopped onto the very top of the fence in left-center field. Another couple of inches and it would have fallen over the fence for a home run instead of back onto the playing field.
In the top of the ninth, Maikel Garcia walked leading off against losing relief pitcher Zach Featherstone (3-4). Tucker Bradley then put down a perfect bunt, with a hurried Featherstone throwing into him at the bag and down the right-field line, putting runners at second and third with none out.
Nick Loftin then walked to load them up. Featherstone appeared on the verge of escaping damage when he struck out Logan Porter and got Nathan Eaton to chop into a fielder’s choice to third, the lead runner thrown out at the plate.
But Rave hit a softish liner off a curveball from fellow lefty Featherstone just out of the reach of diving Kernels second baseman Anthony Prato and into center to win it.
“It was a great series,” Dinkelman said. “Every game was really close, and no different today. We fell behind, came back and tied it up there late in the game. They got a hit there with two outs in the ninth inning to take the lead, but it was good baseball. We had a chance to win. A good series. Just a tough team to play against.”
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