Minor League Sports

Randy Dobnak throws a beauty as Cedar Rapids Kernels move to MWL semifinals

Kernels earn 2-0 sweep of Beloit with 4-0 win

Cedar Rapids Kernels pitcher Randy Dobnak. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Kernels pitcher Randy Dobnak. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Pitch great, get a little bit of offense, move on. That’s what the Cedar Rapids Kernels did Friday night.

Randy Dobnak threw a complete-game six-hitter as Cedar Rapids beat Beloit, 4-0, at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Game 2 of the Midwest League Western Division semifinals, sweeping the best-of-3 series.

Dobnak’s gem was of the seven-inning variety, as the teams would have played a doubleheader Friday had Beloit won this one. There was zero need for that.

“My last three starts have been against Beloit, and I had been throwing primarily sinkers and changeups,” the right-hander said. “This time out, we had a game plan to continue with the sinkers and mix in a lot more breaking stuff. I have been working on and developing a new grip on my breaking ball, and tonight it was definitely my best pitch. We also mixed in a lot of splitters.”

Signed out of independent baseball last August by the parent Minnesota Twins, Dobnak won 10 games in the regular season for the Kernels, who play Peoria in the best-of-3 Western Division finals. Game 1 is Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium (6:35 first pitch), with Games 2 and 3 (if needed) Sunday and Monday at Peoria.

He walked one and struck out a career-high eight. Dobnak encountered only two jams, getting a groundout to end the first inning with two Beloit runners on in scoring position and a lineout with two on to end the game.

“All credit to my catcher Banny (David Banuelos), who called a really great game tonight, and the defense for having my back,” Dobnak said.

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Akil Baddoo’s two-out RBI single put the Kernels on top, 1-0, in the second. Another potential run was cut down at the plate on a strong throw by Beloit right-fielder Jack Meggs.

The Kernels scored twice in the fourth, thanks to a run-scoring error and a Trevor Larnach RBI single. Ben Rodriguez doubled leading off the fifth and eventually scored on a Michael Davis sacrifice fly for the final margin.

Cedar Rapids won Game 1 on Thursday night at Beloit, 10-1.

“Getting the chance to move on to the next series is something special,” Dobnak said. “We finished the season strong and have continued to be dominant on both sides of the game. We have a really great group of guys not only on the field but off the field as well. The team chemistry is something I believe one of the most important things a team can have and we have just that.”

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

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