Clinton, IA - A pair of bases-loaded walks put Cedar Rapids ahead 3-1 in the seventh inning and they'd hang on for a 3-2 win over the Clinton LumberKings in game one of the best-of-three first-round playoff series at Alliant Energy Field.
Right-hander Brandon Maurer struck out the first two men he faced in the seventh inning, appearing to hold a 1-1 lead. However, softly-hit singles by Matt Long and Michael Wing kept the inning alive, and Casey Haerther worked a walk to load the bases and chase Maurer from the game. Hard-throwing right-hander Stephen Pryor came on and couldn't find his control in walks to Jeremy Cruz and Jose Jimenez, giving the Kernels a 3-1 lead.
The bullpen blowup came after the LumberKings had tied the game on their first hit off Kernels' right-hander Ariel Pena. Vinnie Catricala lined a two-out RBI double down the left-field line to score James Jones from second for a 1-1 tie. Cedar Rapids had led 1-0 since a solo homer by Jimenez in the fourth inning.
Mario Martinez blasted a solo homer to center to cut the deficit to 3-2 in the seventh inning, but that's as close as Clinton would get. Right-hander Bryant George (H, 1) worked a scoreless eighth and closer Johnny Hellweg survived a scare in the bottom of the ninth.
Hellweg (S, 1) yielded a swinging-bunt single to Kevin Mailloux with two outs, then walked Gabriel Noriega. Jones had a chance to be the hero, but his chopper to the right side of the diamond found its way to Jean Segura. The Kernels' second-baseman flipped the ball over to Haerther to end Clinton's comeback hopes.
Maurer (L, 0-1) ended up with the loss with two runs on two hits and two walks over 1.0 innings. He entered the game after 5.2 innings from starter Tom Wilhelmsen, who limited the Kernels to a run on four hits while striking out seven. Right-hander Brandon Josselyn contributed 2.1 scoreless innings of relief.
Right-hander David Carpenter (W, 1-0) won in relief for the Kernels with a run on two hits over 1.2 innings.
The loss for the LumberKings means they must now win two-straight at Perfect Game Field in Cedar Rapids to stay alive in the postseason. Game two is tomorrow night at 6:35 PM. Right-hander Yoervis Medina (5-0, 2.50) will get the start for Clinton, taking on left-hander Buddy Boshers (3-0, 4.31) of the Kernels.
Tickets are available through the Kernels' main office at 319-896-7560. Listen to the game live on AM 1390 KCLN in Clinton or online at 1390kcln.com.