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MWL: Kernels win 8th Striaght with 8th Inning Rally

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- The Kernels used a three-run eighth inning to win their eighth straight game on Tuesday night, coming from behind to top the Quad Cities River Bandits 5-3 at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Kernels are now a season-best seven games above the .500 mark with a 67-60 record, 36-21 in the second half. The Kernels look for their ninth win in a row and third sweep in a row on Wednesday night as they host the River Bandits at 6:35 p.m.

The Kernels trailed 3-2 going into the eighth inning but left with a 5-3 advantage as they tallied two hits and took advantage of two errors and a walk. A walk to J.D. Williams began the inning. With one out, Engelb Vielma collected his fourth hit of the night by singling to right field. Williams came home when Tanner Vavra doubled down the right field line, tying the game 3-3. With runners at second and third and the infield drawn-in, Jonatan Hinojosa bounced to the second baseman Jose Fernandez. Vielma sprinted home and scored on Fernandez’s throwing error to the plate, giving the Kernels the lead. On the same play, Vavra continued to run home from second base and scored on a missed catch by the pitcher Albert Minnis to put Cedar Rapids up 5-3.

Mat Batts (2-0) was excellent in the relief for the Kernels, picking up the win. He allowed no runs and just two hits to the River Bandits, striking out six and walking none. Jake Reed pitched a perfect ninth inning with one strikeout for his second save. Combined, the two relievers retired the final 13 hitters of the game.

Vielma went 4-for-4 on the night with his first career home run with two runs batted in and two runs scored. Chad Christensen collected three hits on the night.

Minnis (2-2) took the loss for the River Bandits, allowing three runs (one earned) on two hits in two innings. He struck out three and walked one.

Quad Cities jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Marc Wik hit his fourth home run of the season to center field. The home run came off of Kernels starter Kohl Stewart, only his fourth home run allowed in 87 innings pitched this season. Stewart came back out for the second inning and allowed a one-out double to Brett Booth and a walk before exiting after a meeting on the mound involving Kernels coaches and trainer. A pair of wild pitches by reliever Jared Wilson allowed Booth to score, putting the River Bandits in front 2-0. The two runs were charged to Stewart, who allowed three hits and one walk in his 1 1/3 inning.

The Kernels cut the River Bandits lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the second inning. Williams doubled down the left field line to start the frame and scored on Vielma’s RBI single.

Quad Cities quickly got the run right back in the top of the third inning as Jose Fernandez doubled and scored on Wik’s RBI single to left-center, making the score 3-1.

Wilson went 1 2/3 innings in relief for the Kernels, allowing one run on two hits. He struck out two and walked none.

Vielma nailed the first home run of his career to lead off the sixth inning. Hitting from the right side against the southpaw knuckleballer Blaine Sims, Vielma’s shot carried to deep left to trim the River Bandits lead to 3-2.

Sims went six innings for the River Bandits and allowed two runs on 11 hits in the no-decision. He struck out six and walked one.

The Kernels finish the series with Quad Cities on Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. It’s a First Federal Credit Union Free Money Wednesday. $500 will be given away at the main gates.

LHP Stephen Gonsalves (2-2, 1.57) makes the start for the Kernels while LHP Chris Lee (6-6, 4.04) gets the start for the River Bandits.
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