Cedar Rapids, IA – With the tying run on third base and two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Jose Salas made a leaping catch in shallow right field to preserve a Kernels victory in the series opener against Peoria Tuesday night 6-5.
In a game that was a tail of two halves, pitching dominated the first half of the contest. Orlando Rodriguez shinned in a bounce-back start for the right-hander earning the win going five innings, allowing just a single run on five hits. His counterpart, Cooper Hjerpe, was just as good for Peoria. The southpaw allowed just two runs on three hits to go along with six strikeouts in a season-best six innings of work.
The two runs that Hjerpe did allow came in the bottom of the first inning. With two outs in the frame, Tanner Schobel was hit by a pitch, extending the inning for Kala’i Rosario, who crushed his second home run of the season out to dead center field to make it 2-0.
Peoria grabbed a run back in the top of the fourth when Brady Moore chopped a two-out single into left field to score Jeremy Rivas and to get the Chiefs on the board at 2-1.
That 2-1 tally remained all the way until the bottom of the seventh when the offensive half of the night began. Noah Miller liked the first pitch he saw in the inning and mashed a solo home run to right, his second home run of the season to make it 3-1. Next batter, Misael Urbina, then tripled and was brought home on a sacrifice fly by Salas, extending the lead to 4-1. Willie Joe Garry Jr. made it 5-1 when he scored on a wild pitch, and Rosario pushed the advantage to 6-1 when he drove in his third run of the night on a two-out base hit.
Peoria countered with two runs in the top of the eighth to draw it back to a three-run contest at 6-3. Rivas drove home a run on his second double of the night, then scored on a Jimmy Crooks RBI single.
After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Peoria threatened to draw the game even in the top of the ninth. Luis Rodriguez, Tyler Reichenborn and Nathan Church knocked three straight singles to produce a run and make it 6-4. With one out, Victor Scott then drove in a run by grounding out to second to make it 6-5 while putting the tying run on third base for Rivas, who lifted a ball into shallow right-center field that was caught by a leaping Salas to end the game.
The victory is the fifth straight for Cedar Rapids (19-15) and the fourth in a row over Peoria (18-16) to begin the…