Minor League Sports

Cedar Rapids Kernels begin life without Royce Lewis by beating Lake County

Offense erupts for 11 runs after last year's No. 1 pick was promoted

Cedar Rapids Kernels’ Jose Miranda (left) is congratulated by Kevin Marnon after a home run Wednesday at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Miranda hit a grand slam Saturday night. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Kernels’ Jose Miranda (left) is congratulated by Kevin Marnon after a home run Wednesday at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Miranda hit a grand slam Saturday night. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The post-Royce Lewis era began Saturday night with a bang ... literally and figuratively.

Fireworks dotted the sky at Veterans Memorial Stadium after the Cedar Rapids Kernels finished off Lake County, 11-3. As you can tell by the score, there were plenty of offensive fireworks during the game for the home club.

Who needs Royce anyway? Ha, ha.

After a long period of speculation, the shortstop finally was promoted to high-Class A Fort Myers after a rain-delayed win late Friday night over Fort Wayne. The kid from Southern California impressed everyone around these parts with the way he played the game and the way he dealt with everything that goes with being last year’s No. 1-overall draft pick.

Mature beyond his 19 years, Lewis was great with fans, great with media and seemed to be great with his teammates. He went 0-for-3 with a walk in his Fort Myers debut Saturday night.

“Excited. How could you not be?” he said Friday night, as he packed his gear, with the help of clubhouse manager Zack Shickel.

“He’s been playing great,” said Kernels Manager Toby Gardenhire. “Swinging it as good as he has all year.”

Lewis hit .315 in 75 games for Cedar Rapids this season, including 23 doubles, nine home runs, 53 RBIs and 22 stolen bases, playing through a minor bout of patellar tendinitis.

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Despite his absence, the Kernels (48-44 overall, 16-7 second half) didn’t lack for production. They received a go-ahead grand slam from Jose Miranda in a five-run fifth inning that guided them to their third consecutive victory.

Cedar Rapids blooped, blasted and lined their way to 19 hits, four each from Miranda and Andrew Bechtold. Miranda had five RBIs.

“With some of the guys we’ve lost, Alex (Kirilloff) and Royce and stuff, we’ve got to keep hitting the ball to keep winning,” Bechtold said. “I think tonight was good. Nineteen hits, a bunch of three-hit games, a couple of four-hit games, that’s huge. Just stay within ourselves.”

Michael Davis picked up a single and run for the Kernels, who play Lake County again Sunday afternoon at 2. He’s the guy who replaces Lewis on the active roster, a 24th-round draft pick of the parent Minnesota Twins in this year’s draft.

Davis, from Texas Tech, comes in from Rookie-level Elizabethton, where he played in three games and had two hits in each of them.

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

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