Heading into the last day before the Midwest League All-Star break, the Cedar Rapids Kernels have a one-game lead over the Quad Cities River Bandits in the race for the final first-half playoff berth.
That’s thanks to Cedar Rapids’ 2-1 win over the Clinton LumberKings and Quad Cities’ 4-3 loss to the Beloit Snappers on Saturday.
The key moment in the Kernels win was Travis Blankenhorn’s steal of home plate in the bottom of the 8th inning. Prior to that, the game was scoreless through the first five innings and then was tied 1-1 after both teams scored once in the 6th inning.
Kernels pitcher Tyler Wells improved to 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA in 10 starts, after giving up only one run on four hits and no walks in a career-high eight innings. He struck out 10 batters, giving him 80 strikeouts in 57 innings this season.
The game in Beloit lasted 10 innings, ending when Eric Marinez singled home the winning run to end the Snappers’ losing streak at four games. Beloit had a 2-1 lead after 7 innings, but the River Bandits scored twice in the top of the 8th and the Snappers plated a run in the bottom half, creating a 3-3 tie.
Beloit’s Trace Loehr and QC’s Taylor Jones each drove in two runs.
On Sunday, a Kernels win gives Cedar Rapids the Western Division first-half wild-card berth. If the Kernels lose and the River Bandits win, Quad Cities gets the berth. Cedar Rapids gets the berth if both teams lose.
The Kane County Cougars are the Western Division first-half champs. The West Michigan Whitecaps won the Eastern Division first-half title, and the Dayton Dragons earned the Eastern Division wild-card berth.