Midland, MI – Tailing 6-5 in the top of the ninth inning, Carson McCusker crushed a go-ahead three-run home run followed by an Emmanuel two-run shot as Cedar Rapids rallied to score five times in the ninth to come from behind to take down Great Lakes 10-6 in game one
Midland, MI – Tailing 6-5 in the top of the ninth inning, Carson McCusker crushed a go-ahead three-run home run followed by an Emmanuel two-run shot as Cedar Rapids rallied to score five times in the ninth to come from behind to take down Great Lakes 10-6 in game one of the Midwest League Championship series.
After a scoreless top of the first inning, Great Lakes got on the board first in the bottom of the first inning. To lead off the frame, Taylor Young reached on a bunt single and, on an error, moved up to second base. The next batter, Dalton Rushing, walked, and after Young stole third base, runners were on the corners for Yeiner Fernandez, who opened up the scoring with an RBI single.
Down 1-0 in the top of the second, Cedar Rapids hopped on the board for the first time. An Andrew Cossetti hit-by-pitch, a Jorel Ortega double and a Luke Keaschall walk loaded the bases for Noah Cardenas, who tied up the game with a walk. With the bases still loaded, Jose Salas hit into a double play that scored the Kernels' second run and moved Keaschall to third with two outs for McCusker, who picked up his first RBI of the day with a single to lift Cedar Rapids ahead 3-1.
The Loons grabbed the lead right back in the bottom of the second. A walk and a hit-by-pitch put two runners on for Rushing, who crushed a three-run home run to give Great Lakes the lead back at 4-3.
That 4-3 score held until the bottom of the fourth inning, when Rushing struck again. After two quick outs, a hit-by-pitch put a runner on base for Rushing, who belted his second home run of the game, this one a two-run shot to open the Loons’ lead to 6-3.
Down by three runs in the fifth, the Kernels used the long ball to get back in the game. With two outs in the fifth, Emmanuel Rodriguez lined a home run off the grass in dead center to bring it back to a two-run game at 6-4.
Two innings later, in the seventh, Jose Salas led off the inning with a blast to left to cut the Great Lakes lead down to one run at 6-5.
Trailing by one run in the top of the ninth, Cardenas walked with one out to spark a Cedar Rapids rally. The next batter, Jose Salas, was hit by a pitch to put two on for McCusker, who smashed a go-ahead three-run home run over the wall in left field to jump the Kernels back ahead in stunning fashion 8-6. The next batter, Noah Miller, then ripped a single, getting another Kernels runner on base, this time for Rodriguez, who cranked his second home run of the day on a line to right field to grow the lead to 10-6, the score which would be the final.
The win for Cedar Rapids brings the Kernels one win away from their first Midwest League Championship since 1994. The series flips back to Cedar Rapids for game two on Tuesday at 6:35, with Andrew Morris on the mound opposite Justin Wrobleski.