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MWL: Kernels Snap Streak, Tame Cougars
GENEVA, Ill. The Kernels held on to edge the Kane County Cougars 3-2 on Sunday afternoon, snapping a five-game losing streak and improving their record in Sunday games to 8-0. The win also snapped Kane Countys seven-game home winning streak as the Cougars lost for only the seventh time at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in 2014.
Ethan Mildren (2-3) was solid on the hill in the win for the Kernels as he has now picked up victories in his last two starts. Mildren went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He struck out six and walked two.
The Kernels were able to take advantage of an error to plate a run in the top of the first inning and take an early 1-0 lead. Chad Christensen reached on a two-out throwing error by Cougars shortstop Carlos Penalver before stealing his team-best 16th base to get into scoring position. Mitch Garver brought Christensen home with a RBI single into left field, his team-high 41st run batted in on the season.
Kane County responded by scoring twice in the bottom of the first inning to take a 2-1 lead. After a walk by Daniel Lockhart and a single by Ben Carhart, Yasiel Balaguert tied the game with a RBI double that was pulled down the left field line. It also moved Carhart to third base. He then scored on an odd play to end the frame. Jacob Rogers was retired on a fly ball in left field after a sliding catch by Joel Licon. Carhart came home and crossed the plate only moments before Balaguert was thrown out at third base on Licons throw. The run counted, putting the Cougars ahead.
The Kernels quickly tallied two runs of their own in the top of the second inning, taking a 3-2 lead. Bryan Haar started the inning by singling into right field. Jason Kanzler then crushed a RBI triple to deep center, getting the ball past Jake Hannemans diving attempt on the warning track. With the game tied, Kanzler scored the go-ahead run on Licons RBI sacrifice fly to center.
The two starters Mildren and Kane Countys Paul Blackburn settled in from then on.
Blackburn (5-2) did not allow another hit after Kanzlers triple, leaving after five innings and taking the loss. He allowed three runs (two earned) on three total hits while striking out four and walking one. Blackburn has lost twice this season the other loss also coming to the Kernels in April.
Mildren got the Kernels through six innings with the lead. The Cougars collected a pair of hits with one out in the sixth, but Mildren picked up a strikeout and a groundout to end the frame and keep the 3-2 advantage. Mildren allowed two earned runs while scattering six total hits in his outing. He struck out six and walked two.
Alex Muren retired all six Cougars he faced through two relief innings, striking out a pair.
Todd Van Steensel worked out of danger in the bottom of the ninth to preserve the win, improving to 5-for-5 in save opportunities. The righty allowed a leadoff single and later hit a batter with two outs before striking out Carlos Penalver to end the game. It was one of two punch outs for Van Steensel in his scoreless innings.
Alberto Diaz pitched in relief for the Cougars, going 2 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits. Corbin Hoffner did not allow a run in 1 1/3 innings in relief.