CEDAR RAPIDS — Jordan Gore looked at a bulletin board in the Cedar Rapids Kernels clubhouse about 2:30 Wednesday afternoon for the team itinerary for Game 2 of a unique day-night Midwest League double-header.
Batting practice was at 5:30, he was told. It was optional.
“Then I’m going home to take a nap,” Gore said.
There were a lot of people around the ballpark thinking the same thing. This was a long day of baseball.
Quad Cities swept the Kernels, 6-2 and 8-4. A crowd of 2,813 fans attended the opener, while 863 saw the nightcap.
The doubleheader came about because of a snowout early in the season. After consultation with the Midwest League and Manager Toby Gardenhire, the Kernels decided to play one game at noon, the other at 6:35 p.m.
There’s another day-night twinbill upcoming June 6 against Beloit.
“When we made the decision on this, it was really tough,” said Kernels General Manager Scott Wilson. “Because, obviously, it’s taxing on the staff. We had our full-time staff and then our regular staff who is going to be willing to turn around and do two games? The challenge to it was making sure all of your season-ticket holders get a free ticket to the game because it wasn’t on the schedule.”
The ballpark was cleaned between games and everything set back up as if it was another day.
“I didn’t ask the team, because in their world, this is probably more taxing,” Wilson said. “But I asked Toby about it, and he was happy about the day-night. It’s almost better to split it than to play 14 (innings) in a row. The boys get tired if they’re out there in that sun for 14 innings in a row. And 14 might not be the magic number. They could have been out there for longer, who knows.”
Many Kernels players lounged around their clubhouse between games, taking part in the usual postgame food spread. Others took off from the ballpark for a little while or to eat elsewhere and just get away for a couple of hours.
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“It’s different. Never done this before,” said Kernels shortstop Royce Lewis, between games. “I’m not for sure what I’m going to do. I’m going to shower, I know that.”
Quad Cities took the opener thanks to a five-run second inning in which every run was unearned. The River Bandits built a big lead in Game 2 and survived a late Cedar Rapids rally in which the tying run came to the plate in the sixth.
Shane Carrier had a two-run home run in the nightcap for the Kernels (17-17). Outfielder Alex Kirilloff went oh-fer in both games, seeing his hitting streak snapped at 14.
The teams conclude their five-game series Thursday night at 6:35. That’s one game only.
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