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Too little too late

By Nick Gosen
On May 3, 2014

The Great Lakes Loons came into the April 9 matchup trying to continue the hot hitting stretch that had propelled them to a 4-1 record to start the season. Despite a late rally from the Loons, the Kernels were still able to hang onto a 5-3 win in the second game of the three game series.

After the Loons were unable to solve the first two pitchers they faced that evening, the team was able to tack on a couple runs before ultimately falling short. Left fielder Alex Santana roke an early season slump during the ninth by driving in Hoenecke and Curlette off a line drive hit to left field. Catcher Kyle Farmer also had a busy day after catching two Kernels stealing and then putting up an RBI double in the fourth.

Loons' starter Jonathan Martinez took the mound Wednesday following a remarkable 11 strikeout game in the team's season opener. Martinez had a tougher outing this time around where his command wasn't as sharp as his previous start. He exited the game after pitching five innings and giving up four runs, but Loons manager Bill Haselman still had encouraging words for the young ace.

"He couldn't really get comfortable tonight. He walked a couple leadoff guys, but he kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win," Haselman said.

Prior to last night’s game, Cedar Rapids had allowed the opposition to score first in each of their five games. But in the second, designated hitter Mitch Garver launched one over the left field wall to give the Kernels an early 2-0 lead. After the Kernels were able to tack on another run in the third, the Loons responded with back-to-back doubles by Scavuzzo and Farmer in the fourth to cut the lead to two.

The one earned run would end up being the only blemish on Cedar Rapids pitcher Aaron Slegers' start. The Kernels' righty stands 6'10 and was able to stifle the Loons hitting that was averaging over eight runs a game prior to Wednesday night. Slegers didn't overpower Loons hitters, but his location and movement made it tough for them to get sustained pressure. Slegers went six innings and was able to strikeout six batters while not allowing a single walk. It was an impressive start from the 2013 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year.

In the bottom of the seventh, left-hander Brandon Bixler was able to continue where Slegers left off. Despite allowing the lead-off walk, Bixler was able to keep Loons hitters from doing any further damage by striking out Curletta and Chigbogu in consecutive at-bats. Bixler pitched the seventh and eighth innings, before handing the ball over the closer, Hudson Boyd. The bottom of the ninth ended up being closer than the Kernels probably would have liked, but they still came away with the win.

"The only changes that will be made are because of the early day game tomorrow; it will have nothing to do with not scoring runs,” said Haselman.

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