Cedar Rapids, IA – The Cedar Rapids offense exploded for six runs on seven hits in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 6-1 lead it would never lose Thursday night to top Peoria 9-4 in game two of the West Division Championship Series to force a winner-take-all
Cedar Rapids, IA – The Cedar Rapids offense exploded for six runs on seven hits in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 6-1 lead it would never lose Thursday night to top Peoria 9-4 in game two of the West Division Championship Series to force a winner-take-all game three Friday.
Entering play Thursday night, Cedar Rapids had lost five straight games, and in the final four games of the stretch, the Kernels had scored first. To open game two of the series with Peoria, however, the Chiefs struck first. In the top of the third, a pair of singles put two on for Ramon Mendoza, who continued his big start to the series with an RBI single to make it 1-0.
That was the score until the bottom of the fourth when the Kernels exploded to open up the game-winning advantage. Luke Keaschall singled to begin the inning, and after a Noah Cardenas double, two were in scoring position for Jose Salas, who got the Kernels on the board with an RBI single, to tie the game at 1-1. With still two on, the next batter, Jeferson Morales, lined a three-run home run over the wall in left to lift Cedar Rapids ahead 4-1. Still with no one out, Carson McCusker then ripped a single to get on for Noah Miller, who smashed the second home run of the inning, a two-run blast to give the Kernels a 6-1 edge.
That five-run lead held until Peoria grabbed a run back in the top of the sixth inning. A walk and a single put two on with one out for Brody Moore, who brought the Chiefs back within four runs at 6-2 with an RBI single.
But that would be the closest Peoria got the rest of the night. To lead off the Cedar Rapids half of the seventh, Jorel Ortega notched the Kernels' third home run of the night on a solo shot to left to open the CR lead back to five at 7-2. After a pair of walks by Cardenas and Morales then put two more runners on in the inning, McCusker gave the Kernels some extra insurance with a two-run double to open the advantage to 9-2.
Peoria rallied to score twice in the top of the ninth inning, but it was far too little too late as Cedar Rapids evened up the West Division Championship Series 1-1.
The win for the Kernels sets up a winner-take-all game three of the series with the Chiefs on Friday at 6:35 to decide who will head to the Midwest League Championship starting Sunday. C.J. Culpepper is set to pitch in game three for Cedar Rapids opposite Zane Mills.