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Melotakis Shines As Kernels Defeat Clinton

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CEDAR RAPIDS Considering his Clinton counterpart tossed a no-hitter two starts ago, Cedar Rapids pitcher Mason Melotakis had to figure runs could come at a premium Sunday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

"It just felt good, right from the get-go," Melotakis said after he outpitched Clinton's Victor Sanchez in the Kernels' 3-1 win in front of 2,676 fans. "Just go out there and do your job, just throw up zeros, give your team a chance to win."

Melotakis (9-3, 3.37 ERA) tossed eight superb innings, allowing just four hits and an unearned run.

He struck out seven LumberKings without a walk.

"It's huge, in order to go deep into a game, you have to eliminate walks," said Melotakis, who is now 6-1 over his last 10 starts. "Let them get themselves out. If they get a hit, then they got a hit. Let them earn it."

Cedar Rapids (24-11 second half, 64-39 overall) leads the Western Division by a full four games over Beloit.

Two starts removed from a no-hitter against Peoria, Clinton's Sanchez (2-5) was strong early, yielding just a run on three hits through the first five innings. With the scored tied at 1-1, the 18-year-old Venezuelan took a one-hopper off the left thigh from the Kernels' Max Kepler for a single to start the sixth. He remained in the game, but a two-out single from Michael Quesada set the stage for Jeremias Pineda to lace a Sanchez change-up for an opposite-field double to left-center, scoring two runs.

"I was to stay inside the ball, and I hit the ball hard," said Pineda, who is hitting .353 with 13 RBIs in the second half. "I'm working hard, I'm getting more comfortable."

Pineda, last year's Gulf Coast League MVP, was acquired last August from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for infielder Danny Valencia.

"He's come up in some pretty big situations for us, he's done a nice job," Kernels Manager Jake Mauer said. "He just had to stay patient, and he did."

With two singles, Jonathan Murphy extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

The Kernels go for the sweep tonight at 6:30.