Inside-The-Park Home Run Helps Kernels Over Bowling Green
By Jeff Johnson (Story) and Josh Christensen (Video), Reporters
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - "Wheels" Grimes might still be running. Catch him if you can.
Tyler Grimes isn't exactly known for his excessive speed, but he keyed the Cedar Rapids Kernels' 6-3 win Saturday night over Bowling Green with a pair of big plays involving his legs.
The catcher alertly stretched an infield single into a pseudo-double that led to a run in the eighth inning. In his previous at-bat in the fifth, he sprinted around the bases for an inside-the-park home run that electrified the crowd of 4,399 at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
"I honestly don't think I've ever had one before," Grimes said. "Probably like tee ball or something, but I don't remember."
Grimes hit a fly to left field that just got over the glove of a leaping Marty Gantt and ricocheted off the high-wall indentation and toward center field on the warning track. By the time center-fielder Andrew Toles ran over to retrieve the rolling ball, Grimes was headed toward third base.
Manager Jake Mauer waved him, and he slid safely head first into the plate as the relay throw eluded BG catcher Luke Maile. The most exciting play in baseball.
"I kind of changed gears after I got to first base," Grimes said. "Once I saw the ball keep rolling, I put it into another gear and was waiting to see what Jake was going to do. He waved me to go, and I felt like a bear had jumped on my back after I rounded third. Luckily, everything worked out."
The crowd roared and Grimes' teammates went wild. Hitting coach Tommy Watkins gave him a huge hug at the top step of the dugout.
"I heard the crowd go to another level, and that got me more and more amped to get home," Grimes said. "Once I finally got there, I just laid there like "Ah!'"
In the eighth, Grimes led off with a slow chopper down the third-base line that he beat out for a single. As he walked back toward first, teammate Jonathan Murphy - coaching the base - pointed to him that both Bowling Green's shortstop and second baseman had their heads down and were quite a distance from second.
So Grimes took off, making it standing up and scoring on an ensuing Joel Licon double. What a great head's up play.
"I've got to give Murphy credit for that," Grimes said.
The Kernels (55-35, 15-7) handed Bowling Green starting pitcher Jeff Ames (7-2) his first loss since June 3, ending his scoreless streak at 24 2/3 innings with a pair of runs in the first inning. Adam Brett Walker had a two-out RBI double into the left-field corner to score Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler followed with an RBI single to right that scored Walker.
Ames came in with the second lowest earned run average in the Midwest League (1.96) but left after only two innings, charged with three runs. The Kernels made him throw 45 first-inning pitches with several lengthy quality at-bats.
"When we hit him hard, he kind of backed off," said Mauer. "He really didn't attack like he probably could have. He has better stuff than he showed. But for whatever reasons tonight, he got hit, and he kind of backed off."
The teams play again Sunday afternoon at 2:05.