116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — If you want to know why the Cedar Rapids Kernels have the best record in the Midwest League, why they have qualified for the league’s playoffs here in the first half of the season, just check out Sunday afternoon’s ninth inning.
Relief pitcher Matthew Swain struck out a Dayton hitter with runners on second and third and one away in the top of the ninth inning of a tied game. He was relieved by Ryan Shreve, who officially ended the Dragons threat with a three-pitch K.
Kennie Taylor led off the bottom of the ninth with a line-drive double to the gap in right-center field. Frank Nigro followed with a lined hit to right that scored Taylor easily and gave the Kernels a 4-3 Father’s Day victory.
Swain and Shreve recently joined the club from low-Class A Fort Myers and the injured list, respectively. Nigro was playing his first game in Cedar Rapids after being promoted from the Rookie-level Florida Complex League.
Taylor has been a yo-yo of late, moving back and forth between Double-A Wichita and the Kernels. He hasn’t been an every-day player when he has been in Cedar Rapids.
Guys just come in, help the cause somehow, and the Kernels win and win and win.
“I think everybody wants to compete,” Taylor said. “Everybody wants to do their best when they get the opportunity. I think we’ve been taking advantage of that. No matter where you are, no matter if you bounce up and down the organization, you want to do your thing. I think that’s the mindset we’ve had, and you see people going up and down and still performing.”
The Kernels won four of six games in a series featuring the teams with the best records in the MWL. Cedar Rapids is 41-22, clinched the Western Division first-half championship Saturday.
That’s nine seasons as an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins and nine seasons of qualifying for the postseason.
“I think it’s a testament to the guys, to the organization, that no matter where they are, they are prepared and ready to play,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “It’s exciting, takes the (pressure) off a little bit now. We’re still going to go out there every night and try and win baseball games, help these guys develop and become better baseball players.
“It’s always exciting when you can make the playoffs and have a chance to win a championship.”
Taylor had a very nice game, walking twice and scoring three times. Originally a New York Mets draft pick, the former Duke Blue Devil spent last season in the Seattle Mariners organization.
Nigro played college ball at Division-II Wilmington University and was signed by the Twins out of the independent leagues. He had three hits in Rookie ball last season and was 0-for-6 in two games this season.
He went 2-for-3 here. Come in, contribute, win: the Kernels’ mantra so far in 2022.
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