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Best in the West Kernels Top Peoria 9-3 to Advance to Midwest League Championship Series

September 16, 2023 – Midwest League (MWL) – Cedar Rapids Kernels News Release

Cedar Rapids, IA – Cedar Rapids scored four times in the first inning and never looked back Friday night to knock off Peoria 9-3 to clinch the Midwest League West Division title and advance to the Championship Series for the second time in three years.

After Cedar Rapids came from behind to win game two of the series on Thursday, the Kernels got on the board right away on Friday in game three. Noah Miller and Emmanuel Rodriguez walked to begin the night of the Kernels offense, and after Kala’i Rosario replaced Miller on base with a fielder’s choice, Andrew Cossetti opened the scoring with an RBI single. The next batter, Jorel Ortega then also picked up an RBI single, as did Luke Keaschall behind him to put the Kernels up 3-0. Jose Salas then capped off the offensive outburst for Cedar Rapids in the first inning with an RBI groundout to make it a 4-0 game off the jump.

In the top of the second, Peoria grabbed a run right back. Alex Iadisernia singled to begin the inning, and after a wild pitch moved him to second, Brody Moore put the Chiefs on the board with an RBI single to cut the Cedar Rapids advantage to 4-1.

But that run was the only one allowed by Cedar Rapids starter C.J. Culpepper. In the winner-take-all game three, Culpepper earned the win going 5.0 innings, allowing one run on four hits and picking up eight strikeouts compared to just one walk. Behind him, Mike Paredes continued his hot stretch of pitching out of the bullpen. After tossing two scoreless frames in game one of the series, Paredes matched that mark in game three, allowing just one hit compared to three strikeouts in his two innings of relief.

With the Kernels pitching producing zeros on the mound, Cedar Rapids continued to produce on offense. In the bottom of the fifth, Ortega lifted a double and was in scoring position for Noah Cardenas, who gave the Kernels a four-run lead with an RBI single.

Up 5-1, in the bottom of the seventh, the Kernels opened up their largest lead of the night. After a strikeout to begin the inning, Cossetti reached on a catcher’s interference. Two batters Keaschall singled to put two on for Cardenas, who, for the second straight at-bat, tallied an RBI single, this one to extend the advantage to 6-1. The next batter, Salas then ripped a two-run triple into the right-center gap to score two to extend the edge to 8-1.

In the bottom of the eighth, Cedar Rapids hopped on the board one final time. Back-to-back walks put two on Keaschall, who ripped an RBI single up the middle to extend the lead to 9-1.

Peoria added two runs to rally back in the top of the ninth, but it was far too little too late as Cedar Rapids held on for a 9-3 win to win the Midwest League West Division title.

The Kernels advance to the Midwest League championship series for the second time in three years, this time to take on Great Lakes. Game one of the series is set for Sunday at noon in Midland.

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