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MWL: Haar's Heroics Lift Kernels into 1st Place

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- The Kernels took the series-opener over Kane County with a 4-3 walk-off victory over 11 innings Thursday night. Mitch Garver began the rally in the 11th by legging out a double into left-center field. Jon Murphy replaced him on the base paths as a pinch runner and was waved on to home plate later in the inning on a Bryan Haar extra-base hit into left field. Murphy slid in safely into home on a bang-bang play from left field on the hit to secure the win over the Cougars. Garver and teammate Engelb Vielma each finished with three hits in the contest.

Dallas Gallant (2-1) picked up the win out of the bullpen for the Kernels as he went one scoreless, hitless frame in the top of the 11th. Cedar Rapids relievers Jared Wilson and Jake Reed were brilliant on the mound shutting down the Cougars for no runs and one hit over four innings pitched, collectively.  Mat Batts tied a career record with eight strikeouts over six innings of three-run baseball in his second start for the Kernels.

Cedar Rapids struck first in the bottom of the second when Max Murphy doubled in Alex Swim from second base to go up 1-0. Murphy’s run-scoring hit with no outs in the inning advanced his hitting streak to 10 consecutive games. Engelb Vielma singled later in the inning to spark a controversial inning-ending double play. After a wide turn at first, Vielma was tagged out in a rundown between first and second base. On the play, Murphy attempted to take home, but was called out at the plate to end the inning.

Kane County answered in the top of the fourth by driving in two runs on three extra-base hits. Shawon Dunston, Jr. led off the frame with a stand up triple to the wall in right-center field. Chesny Young doubled next in the order to plate Dunston and tie the score. After moving to third on a fly out to center field, Young scored with one down to make it 2-1 on a Victor Caratini triple to deep left-center.

Caratini struck again in the sixth by driving in Dunston on a one-out ground ball to first base. Dunston reached to begin the inning on a two-base throwing error to first base by Kernels’ starting pitcher Mat Batts. The unearned run made it a 3-1 lead for the Cougars.

Mat Batts (0-1) took the loss over in his second start with the Kernels that lasted six innings. Batts yielded three runs, two earned, on five hits while walking none and tying a career-high with eight strikeouts. Jared Wilson took over to begin the seventh and finished after two scoreless, hitless frames on the hill.

Duane Underwood took the no-decision in the start for Kane County after six frames of one-run baseball. The starter allowed just four hits during his tenure and struck out seven hitters at the plate. The Cougars went to David Garner out of the bullpen in the seventh and the reliever ran into trouble as he entered the eighth inning.

Vielma brought the Kernels back to within one in the eighth on a Tanner Vavra ground ball to third with one out in the inning. Vielma began the frame by beating out a throw at first for a one-out infield single. He then reached second on a pass ball, advanced to third on an errant pickoff attempt and scored on Vavra’s grounder to make it 3-2.

Ryan Walker singled to left with two outs to continue the eighth for the Kernels’ offense. He would reach second base on a wild pitch and tie the game two batters later on a Mitch Garver RBI single to right-center field. Garver’s run-scoring single with two down made it a 3-3 ball game heading to the ninth. Jasvir Rakkar entered with two down in the inning and struck out Bryan Haar with runners on the corner to escape the inning.

Rakkar continued out of the pen and countered Jake Reed of the Kernels as the game went into extra innings.

Francisco Carrillo (0-1)  took the loss for Kane County after he surrendered a leadoff double to Mitch Garver in the bottom of the 11th.. Jon Murphy replaced Garver on bases and scored during the next at-bat when Bryan Haar doubled into left field to take the game by a final of 4-3.

The Kernels do battle with Kane County in game two of the series Friday at 6:35 p.m. The first 1,000 fans through the gates receive a free Kernels TMNT T-Shirt and Bank of the West drawstring bag as part of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Theme Night at the ball park. Fans can also enjoy a Bank of the West Post-Game Fireworks show following the game.

It’s also a Kernels Friday Mug Club, sponsored by 98.1 KHAK. Buy a 16 oz. souvenir mug filled with your favorite regular draft beer or soda for just $6.00 and get refills at the Kernels concessions stands for just $3.00. Bring the mug back to every Kernels Friday home game for those $3.00 refills.

LHP Stephen Gonsalves goes for the Kernels and will counter RHP Jonathan Martinez for the Cougars.
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