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MWL: Kernels come back against Lugnuts to win fourth straight

LANSING, MI -- The Kernels won their fourth straight game on Saturday afternoon with a 5-3 comeback win at Lansing.  Tanner Vavra collected three runs batted in on the day and drove in a pair with a single to tie the game in the eighth inning. 

The Kernels offense was quiet through the first five innings, having recorded only a double by Joel Licon to lead off the third inning.  Trailing 3-0, Engelb Vielma and Jeremias Pineda started the sixth inning with consecutive doubles to put runners on the corners.  With one out, Vavra scored Vielma with a RBI groundout to make the score 3-1.

The Kernels went ahead 4-3 in the eighth inning by scoring three runs.  Logan Wade singled to start the inning and spark the rally.  Then, Jeremias Pineda hit a bouncer off of Lansing pitcher Griffin Murphy that deflected to second baseman Jason Leblebijian.  Wade, who was running to second base, avoided the tag from Leblebijian.  Pineda was safe at first base on the play, and Leblebijians throw to first was off-target, which allowed Wade to reach third.  Pineda would eventually steal second base to put two men in scoring position.

With two outs, Vavra capped off a fantastic at-bat by driving in Wade and Pineda with a single into right-center field.  That tied the game 3-3.  On the very next pitch, Zack Larson roped a RBI double into the left field corner.  Vavra wheeled around the bases to score the go-ahead run, putting the Kernels up 4-3.

The visitors added an insurance run in the ninth inning, making the score 5-3.  Bryan Haar crushed a ball off of the top of the wall in deep left.  He sped towards third base for a triple and was able to come home and score when shortstop Dewan Lugos relay throw hit off of the Kernels dugout.

Kohl Stewart started for the Kernels and pitched four innings.  He allowed three runs on four hits with one walk and two strikeouts.  The runs, hits, and walk all came in the third inning, alone.  In addition, three of the four hits were knocked down by Kernels infielders.  Other than the third inning, Stewart did not allow a base runner.

Lansing sent eight batters to the plate in the third inning after Stewart retired the first seven hitters of the game.  Santiago Nessy became their first runner when he reached on an infield single after shortstop Vielma dove and gloved the grounder to his left.  Derrick Loveless then singled sharply into center field.  After a force out at second base, Leblebijian drew a walk to load the bases.  Matt Dean followed by getting a grounder past a diving second baseman Vavra.  This resulted in a RBI single and put Lansing ahead 1-0.  Mitch Nay then led Vavra to his left, deep into the hole.  Vavra knocked the ball down, and it deflected away to allow a pair of runs to score and make the score 3-0.

The Kernels bullpen pitched five scoreless innings.  Josue Montanez went two innings, striking out three.  Brandon Bixler (1-0) picked up the win after adding one scoreless inning with two strikeouts.  Brandon Peterson was credited with the save after going the final two innings while striking out three Lugnuts.

Kendall Graveman started for Lansing and pitched seven innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out seven and walking none.  Murphy (1-1) took the loss, allowing four runs (one earned) on five hits over two innings.

The Kernels are scheduled to conclude their series and road trip at Lansing on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. (CT).  RHP Felix Jorge (0-1, 9.00) is slated to pitch for Cedar Rapids while RHP Tom Robson (0-0, 6.75) is scheduled to pitch for Lansing.

The Kernels return home on Monday, April 14, opening up a six-game home stand against South Bend and West Michigan.  The game on April 14 v. South Bend begins at 6:35 p.m. and is the first Dollar Monday of the season.  Regular hot dogs, small popcorn, ice cream sandwiches, chips, and Cracker Jacks are each just $1 on Monday home games!
 
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