Return Trip to C.R. Doesn’t Treat Hermsen as Well

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

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By James Steward

CEDAR RAPIDS — B.J. Hermsen had a light’s out performance last season at Veterans Memorial Stadium. In the former West Delaware star’s return to his home turf last night, it was just light’s out … literally.

The power went out at the ballpark in the bottom of the seventh inning, causing a 25-minute delay. By that point, Hermsen was gone, taking the loss as the Cedar Rapids Kernels knocked off his Beloit Snappers, 5-3.

“You try not to, but, yeah, I thought about that game a little bit (coming in),” admitted Hermsen. “One of my teammates said ‘Hey, you set the bar too high.’”

For the most part, it’s been a rough go for Hermsen since his last Cedar Rapids appearance, a brilliant one-hit shutout. He had a sustained period of ineffectiveness and ended up being shipped back to Rookie ball last July.

The opening-night starter this season for Beloit, his outings have been hit and miss. The 21-year-old righty, a sixth-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2008 who signed for $650,000, came into last night’s game with a 2-3 record, 4.23 ERA and high opponent batting average of .304.

His velocity Saturday night was 84 to 86 miles per hour, down from last season and quite a bit down from his prep days.

“You know that was my big thing coming back here this season,” Hermsen said. “It was about being consistent. Unfortunately, so far, it’s been kind of up and down for me.”

The Kernels nicked him for 10 hits and five runs in six innings. He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning last June, but Cedar Rapids ended that dream on Brandon Decker’s leadoff double in the second and Jeremy Cruz’s ensuing two-run home run to left.

The Kernels (19-10) took the lead for good in the fourth with three runs on four hits. Hermsen ended strong, retiring seven of the final eight hitters he faced.

Something to build on.

“He was a little up in the zone early in the game,” said Beloit Manager Nelson Prada. “We always think he’s got a problem in that he throws too many strikes. With two strikes, sometimes he needs to throw (off the plate). That team (Cedar Rapids) is aggressive, they swing the bats. If you throw two many strikes, they’re going to make contact.”

Prada was asked about Hermsen’s velocity.

“Every pitcher in baseball, the harder you throw, the more chances you have,” he said. “If B.J. pitched the way he pitched with a couple more miles per hour, I think he’d have a lot more success. He’s smart, he throws strikes, he knows how to pitch, he goes about his business (well), he’s a very good pro. He just needs a couple more miles (per hour) to have more success.”

The teams play again Sunday afternoon at 2.

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