Cedar Rapids, IA- The Chiefs offense collected 13 hits in Tuesday’s series opener at Cedar Rapids but came out on the wrong end of a 6-5 decision at PG Cares Field.
Both teams entered the series with identical 18-15 records on the season, each 2.5 games out of first place.
The Kernels wasted no time getting on the board Tuesday against Peoria starter Cooper Hjerpe. Following a hit by pitch, Kala’i Rosario opened the scoring with a two-run homer off the batter’s eye.
After falling into an early 2-0 hole, Hjerpe was magnificent the rest of the way. He scattered just two more hits the rest of the way and completed six innings for the first time in his career. The left-hander punched out six batters on Tuesday. Over three May starts, Hjerpe owns an impressive 2.08 ERA.
Peoria scratched a run in the top of the fourth. Jeremy Rivas led off the inning with a hustle double. Following a pair of pop outs, Brody Moore delivered in timely fashion to record his first High-A hit and RBI. His single to left cut the deficit to 2-1.
Chiefs reliever Andrew Marrero entered the game in the bottom of the seventh with the game still in a 2-1 deadlock. Marrero’s first pitch was driven over the right field wall by Noah Miller to give Cedar Rapids a 3-1 lead. Then, Misael Urbina tripled to right center to start another Kernels rally. A sac fly from Jose Salas made it 4-1. Following a two-base error, a pair of wild pitches allowed Willie Joe Garry Jr. to score and the lead ballooned to 5-1. Marerro recorded just two outs on Tuesday. The Kernels tacked on an additional run against reliever Chris Gerard who ultimately ended the inning.
Peoria wasted no time cutting into the deficit in the top of the eighth. Victor Scott singled and promptly stole second. He then scored on a second Rivas double to make it 6-2. Two batters later, Jimmy Crooks drove in a run for the second consecutive contest. His single plated Rivas to cut the deficit to 6-3.
After Gerard twirled a scoreless eighth, Peoria had one last chance. The Chiefs pieced together three straight singles from Luis Rodriguez, Tyler Reichenborn and Nathan Church, the latter scoring a run to make it 6-4. The trio combined for seven hits on Tuesday. Then, after a wild pitch moved runners to second and third, Scott pushed the Chiefs within a run on an RBI groundout. With Church 90 feet away, Rivas had one more chance. With the count full at 3-2, the shortstop floated…