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Written by Marco LaNave   
Friday, 23 August 2013 14:23

Cedar Rapids wins series opener in match-up of top two Midwest League Western Division teams


DAVENPORT, Iowa (AUG. 21, 2013) – Three Cedar Rapids Kernels pitchers combined to hold the Quad Cities River Bandits to one unearned run on eight hits, and Joel Licon hit a two-run home run to be one of three Kernels with multi-RBI games in the visitors' eighth straight win, a 6-1 victory in front of 2,019 at Modern Woodmen Park Wednesday night.


The River Bandits (33-24 second half, 71-55 overall) had their three-game winning streak snapped by the first-place Kernels (40-18, 80-46), who have won 13 of 14 games since Quad Cities won three of four games in Cedar Rapids took take a half-game lead in the Midwest League Western Division second-half standings Aug. 6. The Kernels now lead the River Bandits by 6 ½ games with 12 to play.


Kernels left-hander Miguel Sulbaran (7-4) struck out the first four batters of the game and scattered four hits and a walk while preventing a runner from reaching third base through the first four innings. In the fifth inning, he allowed a one-out bunt single by River Bandits right fielder Jordan Scott, who stole second base and reached third base and home plate on a pair of passed balls by catcher Michael Quesada. In addition to the unearned run, Sulbaran allowed five hits and one walk while striking out six batters in five innings.


The Kernels reached the scoreboard in the third inning against River Bandits right-hander Daniel Minor (7-3), making his first start since June 15. Shortstop Niko Goodrum drew a two-out walk, and first baseman Mike Gonzales drove an RBI double to right-center field.


In the fourth inning, third baseman Travis Harrison drew a leadoff walk, and Licon drove the next pitch for his second home run of the season down the left-field line, extending the lead to 3-0. After Minor allowed another single and walk, he was removed for right-hander Juan Minaya after having completed 3 2/3 innings with five hits, three earned runs, three walks and two strikeouts.


After recording the final out in the fourth, Minaya gave up consecutive fifth-inning singles by Gonzales and right fielder Adam Brett Walker. After Licon drew a walk, designated hitter Bo Altobelli appeared to clear the bases with a three-run double, but on an appeal to third base, Licon was called out for missing the base. Minaya also allowed a run in the sixth, as center fielder Jonathan Murphy singled, reached third base on a Goodrum sacrifice, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Gonzales. Minaya worked 2 1/3 innings, allowing four hits, three earned runs, two walks and one strikeout. Right-hander Richard Rodriguez followed with five strikeouts in three scoreless innings.


The River Bandits offense was led by two-hit games from third baseman Rio Ruiz and Jobduan Morales, who pinch hit in the seventh inning and played the last two innings at catcher.


The River Bandits continue their series with Cedar Rapids at 7 p.m. Thursday. Quad Cities right-hander Chris Devenski (2-3) will start.

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