The Cedar Rapids Kernels edged the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 2-1 on Wednesday night at Perfect Game Field. Three Wisconsin pitchers combined for fourteen strikeouts, but the Kernels scored twice in the sixth inning to erase Wisconsin’s precarious 1-0 lead.
Joe Gray Jr gave the Timber Rattlers (58-51 overall, 22-22 second half) the lead with a single to center to score Ben Metzinger from second base in the fourth inning. The was the only run allowed by Kernels starter Travis Adams, who allowed three hits, walked three, and struck out eight over five innings.
Wisconsin starting pitcher Carlos Rodríguez struck out nine over five innings to set a new single-game high as a professional. Rodríguez went back out for the sixth and gave up a single to Brooks Lee, who was caught trying to steal second for the first out. Rodriguez walked the next two batters on 3-2 pitches and left the game for Robbie Baker.
Baker had retired nineteen batters in a row over his last three outings and had not allowed a hit in his first four appearances in August. Pat Winkel was the first batter Baker faced on Wednesday night and he tied the game for the Kernels with an RBI single to center on the second pitch he saw. Baker threw a wild pitch with Jeferson Morales at the plate to move runners to second and third. Baker would strike out Morales for the second out.
However, as Baker was delivering a 1-1 pitch to Wander Javier, a balk was called on Baker to allow the go-ahead run to score. Baker would bounce back to strike out Javier and pitch a scoreless seventh with two more strikeouts. Ryan Middendorf worked a scoreless eighth inning with one strikeout out of the Wisconsin bullpen.
Those two runs in the sixth were all the Kernels (65-45, 22-22) needed. Wisconsin got a single in the seventh against Bobby Milacki and a two-out single in the ninth against Hunter McMahon, but the Rattlers never threatened to tie the game against the Cedar Rapids relievers.
Gray had three of Wisconsin’s hits and drove in their only run of the game.
Game three of the series is Thursday night at Perfect Game Field. First pitch is at 6:35pm. The starting pitchers for both teams will make their Midwest League debut on Thursday. Stiven Cruz has been named as the Timber Rattlers starting pitcher. The Kernels will have Jaylen Nowlin as their starter.