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MWL: Kernels survive late River Bandits rally

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- The Cedar Rapids Kernels evened the series against the Quad Cities River Bandits with a 5-1 win Wednesday evening at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Todd Van Steensel picked up his sixth save of the year while Chad Christensen knocked in three RBIs and scored a run for the Kernels. Jason Kanzler crushed a solo homer in the second inning and Brandon Bixler tallied his fourth victory of the season by pitching three scoreless, hitless innings out of the bullpen.

The Kernels grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Engelb Vielma crossed the plate on a Chad Christensen fielders choice ground ball.

Quad Cities evened the scoring column in the top of the second after Tyler White singled in Chase McDonald to home.

Jason Kanzler grabbed the lead back for Cedar Rapids in the bottom of the second on a solo round-tripper over the left field wall.  The blast marked Kanzlers sixth home run of the year and put the Kernels in front 2-1.

Starting pitcher Fernando Romero exited the mound for the Kernels after four complete frames. The right-hander allowed one run on five hits while walking two and striking out one in the no-decision effort.

Brandon Bixler (4-3) entered from the bullpen to begin the top of the fifth for Cedar Rapids. Bixler went three scoreless, hitless innings for the Kernels and struck out two batters.

Evan Grills (2-2) left the game after five full innings on the hill. The River Bandits starting pitcher surrendered two runs on eight hits while striking out six Kernels and walking none.

Edison Frias entered out of relief in the sixth inning for Quad Cities. Frias threw three innings for the River Bandits and gave up three runs on five hits while striking out one.

Hard-throwing Hudson Boyd came to the rubber in the eighth for Cedar Rapids. Boyd allowed three runs on three hits while walking one and striking out one during a 1 2/3 inning tenure on the mound.

Cedar Rapids added three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth on five total hits. Christensen recorded two RBIs on a deep triple and later scored on a wild pitch to make the advantage 5-1 in favor of the Kernels.

The River Bandits rallied in the top of the ninth to cut into the lead with three two-out runs. Austin Elkins drove in two runs on a single to right field and Tyler White came across for the final Quad Cities run on a Brett Phillips single to right.

Todd Van Steensel recorded the final out and earned his sixth save of the year by securing the 5-4 victory in his 1/3 inning of work. Van Steensel is a perfect 6-6 in save opportunities this season.

The Kernels host the River Bandits in the series finale Thursday at 6:35 p.m. Its a Thirsty Thursday sponsored by Z 102.9 where
12 oz. regular draft beer, 20 oz. bottled soda and water are just $2.00 all game. Plus get $1 off margaritas at the Hacienda Las Glorias / La Cantina Mexican Cart.

Its also a Little Caesers College Night where every Thursday home game fans can show their college ID at the Kernels Ticket Office for a Club ticket and two slices of Little Caesars Pizza for just $7. Thursday nights game also features the 1K Beer Run. The run/walk consists of four laps around the warning track. Cost is $18 per person and 21 and older. You get three beers that you drink while walking/running, during your four laps.

RHP Ryan Eades (3-7, 7.07) will toe the rubber for Cedar Rapids while the River Bandits will start RHP Adrian Houser (4-1, 3.91)

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