Friday, August 01, 2014
FRIDAY SCOREBOARD - MWL - Kernels at Beloit, suspended, rain, tied 0-0 in 2nd
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Kernels climb into tie for 1st place

It has been a long road back to the top for the Cedar Rapids Kernels, but when they topped Burlington, 3-2, in 11-inning walk-off fashion on Wednesday night, they pulled into a tie atop the Midwest League’s Western Division standings.

The Kernels rode their way to the top on the shoulders of second baseman Ryan Walker.

Walker had three hits in six at-bats and all three Cedar Rapids RBIs, including the game-winner in the 11th inning when he drove in Max Murphy and sent 2,424 fans home happy from Veterans Memorial Stadium.


Pitching lifts Kernels into playoff race

In mid-June, after a disappointing first half to their Midwest League season, the Cedar Rapids Kernels limped into the MWL’s All-Star break with a 31-39 record, not only 14 games behind Western Division leader Kane County but also 7.5 games behind the second place Burlington Bees.

The latter is important because, in the world of Class A minor league baseball, seasons are split into two halves, with the first and second place teams in each division, each half-season, earning berths in the postseason playoff series.

Kane County and Burlington snatched the MWL West spots in the first half, leaving Cedar Rapids, Quad Cities, Clinton, Beloit, Peoria and Wisconsin to slug it out in the second half for two more spots, with each team starting with fresh 0-0 records June 19.

With Peoria, Wisconsin and Quad Cities all assembling winning records in the first half, it was logical to assume that those three teams would contend for the Western Division’s two second-half playoff spots – and they have been doing just that.

Entering Wednesday, Peoria and Quad Cities were tied for second place in the Division’s second-half standings, trailing Kane County by just one game, and Wisconsin is two games back.

Clinton and Beloit have repeated their first-half fortunes, each at least 11 games under .500 and filling the final two spots in the standings, as they did in the first half.


DiMaggio's cousin gives Kernels a boost

You don't find too many New York Yankees fans out in California, but Kernels relief pitcher Chris Mazza had a good reason for cheering for the Bronx Bombers when he was growing up.

The famous DiMaggio brothers - Joe, Dom and Vince - are his third cousins and he actually met Joe DiMaggio when he was a little kid.

"My great grandmother is a DiMaggio," Mazza related Tuesday night after helping the Kernels trim Burlington, 6-2. "I kind of grew up a Yankees fan my whole life."

Mazza, from Clayton, Calif., tossed 1.1 scoreless innings for Cedar Rapids Tuesday before 2,440 fans at Veterans Memorial Stadium.


Cougars take 3 aces to state tourney

Kennedy Coach Bret Hoyer is like a wily poker player with three aces up his sleeve and a big pile of chips on the table.

He wants to use all three aces and win the pot of gold, but he's not sure how quickly to show his hand before trying to cash in.

His top ace is Zach Daniels with his 8-1 record and 1.02 ERA, but Daniels is also his star second baseman and a trump card on defense.

His next ace is Sammy Lizarraga with his 7-0 mark and 1.45 ERA, but Lizarraga is also an all-star catcher with superb defensive skills behind the place.

His other ace is Blake Hargens with his 8-1 record and 1.10 ERA, but Hargens did not get to pitch in the substate tournament and could be a little rusty.



Daniels enjoys special year with Cougars

Kennedy junior Zach Daniels has been playing baseball for as long as he can remember. Fielding grounders, swinging a bat, throwing a ball.

He was just a toddler when it all began.

"My dad started doing stuff with me when I was 2 years old," he said Monday night after practice. "Like in the back yard, he'd hit me some balls and I'd hit off the tee.

"I started at a really young age," he said with a grin.

It's paid off for Daniels, who has enjoyed a special year with the third-ranked Cougars on their path to the Class 4A state tournament.


Page 2 of 866


Metro Schedule

Sunday, July 27 Thursday, July 31
MWL: Kernels 4, Dayton 1 MWL: Kernels 6, Burlington 1
Monday, July 28 Friday, Aug. 1
MWL: Dayton 3, Kernels 2 MWL: Kernels at Beloit, suspended to 8/2, rain, tied 0-0 in 2nd
Tuesday, July 29 Saturday Aug. 2
MWL: Kernels 6, Burlington 2 MWL: Kernels at Beloit (2), 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 30 Sunday, Aug. 3
MWL: Kernels 3, Burlington 2 MWL: Kernels at Beloit, 2 p.m.
Southeast Polk 1, Kennedy 0



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