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MWL: Kernels fall in close battle to Burlington

CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA - The Cedar Rapids Kernels fell 6-5 to the Burlington Bees Friday night at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The loss allowed Burlington to secure the first-round wild card spot in the playoffs in September. Jason Kanzler hit his seventh long ball of the year with one out in the fourth. Bryan Haar smacked his 13th double of the year while Chad Christensen, Jon Murphy and Mitch Garver each added an RBI. Kernels pitchers surrendered seven walks in the defeat.

Heavy hitting defined the game throughout the first six innings where there were two ties and two lead changes.

Mitch Garver put the Kernels in front 1-0 in the bottom of the first on a single that brought in Ryan Walker. The base-hit allowed Garver to reach base for the 22nd consecutive game.

The Kernels added another early run in the bottom of the third to take a 2-0 advantage. Walker scored for the second time on the night off an RBI-groundout by Chad Christensen.

The Bees tied up the scoring column off two hits and three walks in the top of the fourth. Mike Fish was brought in by on a sacrifice fly to right by Ryan Dalton and Eric Aguilera was plated on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Erick Salcedo.

Cedar Rapids answered with two runs to take a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Jason Kanzler homered to right and Jon Murphy plated Tanner Vavra on a single to center. The blast over the right field wall marked the seventh long ball on the season for Kanzler.

Lewis Thorpe left the mound for Cedar Rapids after four frames on the mound. Thorpe allowed two runs on three hits while walking four and striking out one in his second start of the year.

Jared Wilson entered out of relief to begin the fifth for the Kernels. The reliever threw one inning and surrendered two runs on two Bees hits while walking two and striking out one.

Burlington knotted the score at 4-4 in the top of the fifth off a two-run blast to left field by Eric Aguilera.

The Kernels retook the lead 5-4 in the bottom of the fifth when Bryan Haar doubled in Mitch Garver.

Bees starter Clint Sharp (3-3) finished his 13th start of the year after five innings of work. Sharp surrendered five total runs on eight base-hits along with one walk and three strikeouts.

Chris Mazza (0-2) opened the sixth inning on the hill for Cedar Rapids. The right-hander allowed two runs on two hits and struck out three compared to one base on balls.

The Bees fought back and scored two runs for the third straight inning in the top of the sixth. Mike Fish doubled to right bringing in Salcedo and Eaves to give Burlington a 6-5 lead.

Cole Swanson toed the rubber out of the pen for Burlington in the sixth. The southpaw walked two batters in his 1/3 inning before being taken out of the game.

Brian Loconsole came on to pitch out of a jam in the sixth. Loconsole ended the night after 2 2/3 frames of work with no runs where he allowed five strikeouts and one walk.

Todd Van Steensel entered the game to begin the eighth for the Kernels. Van Steensel tossed two scoreless, hitless innings and struck out three in his relief outing.

Closer Alan Busenitz pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth. The reliever picked up his ninth save of the year by securing the 6-5 playoff-clinching victory.

The Kernels play host to Burlington on Saturday at 5:05 p.m. for the middle game of the series. Its ISU Cyclone Night where the Kernels will be wearing special Iowa State jerseys that will be sold via a silent auction during the game. Fans are encouraged to dress in their favorite Cardinal and Gold apparel.

Its also an Eastern Iowa Airport Post-Game Fireworks Game. Enjoy a spectacular FIREWORKS show following the Kernels game, presented by the Eastern Iowa Airport. Fans can also enjoy the music of the Lonesome Road in a post-game concert following the Kernels game with Burlington.

RHP Ethan Mildren (2-3, 4.56) will toe the rubber for the Kernels in game two while Burlington is scheduled to open with RHP Garrett Nuss (3-0, 3.46).

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