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MWL: Kanzler’s hit wins thriller for Kernels

CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA -- The Cedar Rapids Kernels snapped a four-game losing streak with a 12th inning walk-off victory over the West Michigan Whitecaps, 7-6, Saturday at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The Kernels began the inning with a leadoff walk by Engelb Vielma, who was sacrificed to second base by Joel Licon.  The Kernels won on a hit to left center field by Jason Kanzler.  The winning pitcher was Brandon Peterson, and the losing pitcher was Montreal Robertson.

For the first time in 10 home games, the Kernels scored the first run of the game.  The Kernels loaded the bases with one out in the second inning.  Zack Larson gave the Kernels their first hit of the game with a single.  B.K. Santy then walked in his first plate appearance in Cedar Rapids, which was followed by a bloop single from Bo Altobelli.  After a strikeout, Jeremias Pineda drove in the opening run on an infield single to the left side.

Defense defined the game over the first three innings.  The top of the first inning ended on a diving catch in shallow center field by Jason Kanzler.  In the top of the third, the Kernels turned a double play when Engelb Vielma made a lunging catch on a blooper to the right side and made a leaping throw back to second base to turn two.  The Whitecaps turned their own double play to end a Kernels rally in the bottom of the third.

The Whitecaps tied the game in the top of the fourth inning on a solo home run by Raph Rhymes.  The homer, Rhymes' second of the year, sailed well over the left field wall.

The Whitecaps took the lead in the fifth inning, using two home runs to claim a 5-1 lead.  Tim Remes drove one just over the left center field wall to put West Michigan ahead, the second inning in a row the Whitecaps began with a home run.  Javier Betancourt made it 4-1 on a two-run shot, another to left field.

Kernels starter Felix Jorge saw his day come to an end in the fifth inning. Jorge allowed five runs on seven hits, walking three and striking out two.  After Jorge's exit and against relief pitcher Alex Muren, the Whitecaps had runners on first and third with two outs, and scored their fifth run of the day when Ben Verlander was caught stealing.   The ensuing rundown allowed Raph Rhymes to score from third.

The Kernels rallied to make it a one-run game in the bottom of the fifth.  Singles from Tanner Vavra and Chad Christensen put runners on the corners with no outs.  With one out, Zack Larson singled to score Vavra.  After stealing second earlier in the inning, Christensen moved to third.  He would score on the next at-bat, an RBI groundout from B.K. Santy that moved Larson to second. The Kernels scored their third run on a West Michigan throwing error, scoring Larson from second.

Austin Kubitza of the Whitecaps also ended his outing after 4 2/3 innings. He allowed three earned runs on eight hits, with three walks and seven strikeouts.

The Kernels continued their stellar defense in the sixth inning with an "accidental" double play. With a runner on first moving on the pitch Brett Harrison hit a grounder to Engelb Vielma at shortstop.  Vielma bobbled the ball while trying to field it for a throw to first, but the bobble wound up in the hands of Vavra, who stepped on the bag and threw to first for the double play.

The game stayed 5-4 until the ninth.  With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning B.K. Santy drilled a home run over the left field wall to tie the game.  It was Santy's first hit as a Kernel.

The Whitecaps scored in the tenth inning on a bloop single by Jose Zambrano that was nearly caught by Jeremias Pineda.
Once again, the Kernels answered with two outs.  Jason Kanzler laid down a bunt single down the first base line to extend the game. Manager Jake Mauer then turned to Mitch Garver to pinch-hit.  Garver clubbed a double to left center field, scoring Kanzler and tying the game.

The Kernels had the winning run on second base with one out in the 11th inning after Bryan Haar was walked and sacrificed to second.  However, Montreal Robertson was able to retire the next two hitters to send the game to the 12th.

The Kernels take Sunday off before traveling to Peoria to open up a four-game series against the Chiefs on Monday night at 6:30 p.m.  The Kernels are scheduled to start RHP Aaron Slegers (1-0, 3.38) while Peoria counters with RHP Alex Reyes (1-0, 1.13).

The Kernels return home on Monday, April 28 v. Kane County at 6:35 p.m.  Its a Dollar Monday as regular hot dogs, small popcorn, ice cream sandwiches, chips, and Cracker Jacks are each just $1.00 on Monday home games!

Tickets are available at!  You can also visit the Kernels Ticket Office at Veterans Memorial Stadium or call 319-896-7560!

Kernels games are broadcast live on KMRY Radio (93.1 FM/1450 AM) and streamed online at!
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