Minor League Sports

Only diehard fans brave the weather to watch Cedar Rapids Kernels top Kane County

CEDAR RAPIDS — Brandi and Jayson McCarty got married last fall, with their passion for baseball one of the things that helps keep their relationship strong.

The Cedar Rapids couple love the Chicago Cubs, the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the Midwest League. So much on those latter two that they traveled all the way to Lansing, Mich., last summer to attend the MWL All-Star Game.

That’s about a seven-hour drive.

And despite the weather being ghastly Wednesday night, they were in their usual spots right next to the visiting dugout at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Bundled up with heavy coats and gloves and blankets on their laps, of course.

“We’re here because we enjoy baseball. Why else would we be here?,” Brandi McCarty said, before the Kernels’ 5-4 win over Kane County.

She made you sound stupid for asking.

“We didn’t really consider staying home,” she said. “We said we would come no matter what. Rain or shine. So we’re here.”

This wasn’t rain or shine, just miserably cold. The temperature at game time was 40 degrees, with a 30 to 40-mile-per-hour wind making it feel like 28.

There were less than 50 people in the stands when Kernels starter Blayne Enlow threw his first pitch. When the game concluded, it was the McCartys and maybe five or six of their closest friends.

Yes, seriously. The atmosphere had a definite minor-league spring training vibe.

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Enlow (1-1) threw five good innings to get the win for the Kernels (2-5), who stopped a four-game losing streak. The Louisiana native wore no T-shirt under his jersey for his outing, believe it or not, giving up four hits and a run, striking out five.

“Wasn’t the coldest I’ve ever pitched in,” Enlow said. “Last year’s first game against Peoria was it. It was there, and it was, maybe, five or six degrees colder, if I remember right.”

Cedar Rapids scored four go-ahead runs in the fifth inning, with only one of the five earned, thanks to a pair of errors. Kane County (4-3) had five errors in the game.

Joe Record struck out the side in the ninth for his first professional save in just his second professional game. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2017 but missed that season and all of last season after having Tommy John surgery.

The teams play again Thursday night at 6:35.

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

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