In a series dominated by pitching, the Cedar Rapids Kernels took the rubber game of their three-game showdown with the Kane County Cougars 2-1 Thursday night before 3,135 fans at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The Kernels outscored the Cougars, 6-4, in the low-scoring series. Manager Jake Mauer acknowledged the lack of production by his team, but was not complaining about the end result.
"If you’re an offensive lover, there wasn’t very much of that, that’s for sure,” he said. “But we played pretty good defense, especially in the infield.”
Once again, it was the Kernels' pitching that gets primary credit for the win as the Cedar Rapids lineup managed just four hits.
"It was really good to see how our pitching responded. We gave up a lot of home runs, a bunch of runs, on that road trip,” Mauer said. “Coming back home here, obviously, they (Kane County) are one of the better hitting teams in the league.”
Ethan Mildren, reinserted this week into the Cedar Rapids rotation after spending most of the past month in the bullpen, worked the first four innings, giving up just three hits, including a second-inning home run by Monty Herum that accounted for the sole Kane County run.
“Mildren was good, what we hoped,” Mauer said of his starter. “He didn’t back off, kind of used his movement. He’s a guy that’s kind of an innings guy, eat up innings and give you a chance to give the bullpen a rest.”
Kane County is going to be joining the Kernels in the Midwest League playoffs, though the two teams would not meet until the second round. Still, Mauer and his team believe these games against potential playoff opponents are important.