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MWL: Hinojosa leads Kernels over Bees

BURLINGTON, Iowa -- Jonatan Hinojosa’s big night led the Kernels to a 6-5 win over the Burlington Bees on Thursday night in the opener of the series at Community Field. The third baseman drove in four runs, including three with a triple in the seventh inning to tie the game. He also scored the go-ahead run and added an earlier RBI single as the Kernels began the six-game road trip with a victory. The ‘magic number’ to clinch a playoff spot is now four with 11 games remaining in the regular season.

The Kernels (37-22, 68-61) plated four runs in the seventh inning to erase a three-run deficit and take their first lead of the night. With the Kernels trailing 5-2, Hinojosa came up with the big hit as he pulled a bases-clearing triple down the right-field line to tie the game. He then scored on a passed ball by Bees catcher Stephen McGee, giving the Kernels a 6-5 lead. Max Murphy singled, Logan Wade walked, and Ryan Walker singled all in front of Hinojosa’s triple.

Brandon Bixler (7-4) went 1 2/3 innings for the win in relief on the mound. He allowed no runs on just one hit while striking out one and walking one. Dallas Gallant also pitched 1 2/3 in relief for the Kernels. He retired all five hitters, striking out three for a hold. Jake Reed went 1-2-3 in the ninth inning with one strikeout for his third save.

Ronnie Muck (1-3) went three innings in relief for the Bees and allowed all four runs in the seventh inning, taking the loss. He allowed four total hits while striking out four and walking two.

The Kernels collected two singles in their first at-bat but did not score as the opening inning ended when Engelb Vielma was thrown out at home by center fielder Bo Way after a single by Mitch Garver. Way came up and plated a run for the Bees in the bottom of the first inning. He tripled to deep right-center to begin the inning and scored on a RBI sacrifice fly by Zach Houchins, putting Burlington up 1-0 after one inning.

The Bees (26-33, 64-64) scored two more runs in the second inning to move ahead 3-0. Brandon Bayardi and Trevor Gretzky led off with singles. With two outs, Bayardi scored when Erick Salcedo reached on a fielding error by first baseman Chad Christensen. Way followed with a RBI single to center, plating Gretzky to put Burlington up by three.

The Kernels scored twice in the fifth inning on a pair of two-out RBI single singles, cutting Burlington’s lead to 3-2. Wade walked with one out and scored on a two-out RBI single to right field by Walker. Walker advanced to second base on the throw home and scored when Hinojosa followed with a RBI single to center.

However, the Bees got those runs back right away in the bottom of the fifth inning, extending their lead back to three runs at 5-2. Kody Eaves started the rally when he reached second base for a double on a misplayed pop up that hit the ground in shallow right field. He went to third on a wild pitch by Kernels starter Lewis Thorpe and scored when Houchins reached on a fielding error by third baseman Jonatan Hinojosa. Houchins reached second base on the play and scored when Eric Aguilera laced a RBI double to the wall in left-center.

Thorpe struck out seven Bees on the night in his 4 2/3 innings in a no-decision. Only two of the five runs allowed were earned as he allowed six hits while walking one.

Victor Alcantara went five innings for Burlington in the no-decision. He allowed two runs on five hits while striking out five and walking two. Cole Swanson pitched the ninth inning for Burlington, striking out the side.

The Kernels continue the series at Burlington on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. RHP Ryan Eades (8-11, 5.68) is scheduled to start for the Kernels while LHP Sean Newcomb (0-0, 7.50) will start for Burlington.      

The Kernels return home on Wednesday, August 27 to host Kane County at 6:35 p.m. It’s a Free Money Wednesday, sponsored by First Federal Credit Union. $500 will be given away the main gates.
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