Minor League Sports

Blayne Enlow with 4 strong relief innings to save Cedar Rapids Kernels' win over Wisconsin

Cedar Rapids Kernels
Cedar Rapids Kernels

CEDAR RAPIDS — Blayne Enlow doesn’t have a win despite being with the Cedar Rapids Kernels all season and being a regular in the starting rotation.

He didn’t get one Saturday night, either, though he did finally get something tangible out of an outing. Something that has to help his psyche.

The promising 19-year-old from Louisiana came out of the bullpen and finished off his team’s 5-3 victory over Wisconsin at Veterans Memorial Stadium with four shutout innings. That’s a positive, a save that’s the first of his young professional career

“The biggest thing is just getting my motivation and confidence back pitching,” Enlow said.

A third-round draft pick last summer, Enlow is widely considered one of the Minnesota Twins' top 10 to 20 prospects. But he’s making a huge jump from the Rookie Gulf Coast League to low-A ball, and injuries have plagued him.

A bad back put him on the disabled list early in the season, and he’s just returning from a DL stint caused by an ankle problem. Enlow is coming out of the bullpen while he builds his arm back up.

Relieving Jordan Balazovic to begin the sixth, he gave up just two hits and a walk, striking out four and retiring eight in a row at one point. His lone walk came with one out in the ninth, causing the Kernels to get a guy up in the bullpen.

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But Enlow got Rob Henry to bounce into a game-ending, around-the-horn double play to improve Cedar Rapids to 35-37 overall and 3-0 in the second half. The teams play again Sunday afternoon at 2:05.

“Really encouraging,” said Kernels Manager Toby Gardenhire. “That was good for him because he’s had some battles and some injuries. For him to go out there and throw the ball like that was great.”

“I’ve struggled,” Enlow said. “Going from high school ball to here, that’s a big difference, a change. Hitters are definitely good here. You can’t give them anything. You’ve got to attack them every pitch, and you’ve got to have intention with that pitch. They can hit any pitch anywhere ... For me, the biggest thing is to focus on the next pitch, not on what just happened.”

Jean Carlos Arias hit a three-run home run as part of a four-run third that put the Kernels over the top. Arias tripled in the seventh and scored an insurance run on a Royce Lewis infield hit.

A sterling defensive play by second baseman Jordan Gore kept the Kernels in the lead in the sixth. Gabriel Garcia tripled with one out, but with the infield in, Gore fielded a slow chopper off the bat of Brent Diaz and threw on the run home to nail Garcia. Enlow then allowed a two-out single but ended the inning with a fielder’s choice grounder.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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