Kernels Drop 8th in a Row in Tough Fashion

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

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By James Steward

CEDAR RAPIDS — Long-standing club tradition has members of the board of directors treating Cedar Rapids Kernels players to a free dinner at a restaurant in the Amana Colonies anytime they post a 10-game win streak.

Which, at this point, brings up an overly cynical question. Do players treat the board of directors if they lose 10 straight?

Not even the presence of the Kane County Cougars could bust this slump the Kernels are in right now. A 5-4 loss Tuesday night before 1,809 fans at Veterans Memorial Stadium was probably the roughest of the eight in a row Cedar Rapids has endured.

Gerard Hall tripled over the center fielder’s head with two outs in the ninth inning to bring home the tying run, then scored the winner on Alex Llanos’ single to left. It was the first time in seven games Kane County has beaten the Kernels, who fell into a three-way tie for third place in the Midwest League’s Western Division.

“People are frustrated. No one likes losing,” said Kernels second baseman Wes Hatton. “We’ve just got to go out tomorrow and try to get them. I think we played a lot better tonight than we have been. It’s just unfortunate what happened that last inning. We’ll go out tomorrow and put everything we have on the field.”

The Kernels (20-18) have averaged about 2.5 runs during their losing streak, so offense has been a problem. But it’s more than that, according to Manager Brent Del Chiaro.

“Not getting the shutdown innings when we need them after we score,” he said. “That’s kind of plagued us all season long. For whatever (reason), a lack of focus. I don’t know (why), but we’re trying to figure that out. Our defense hasn’t been as solid as it has been. Offensively, with guys in scoring position, we haven’t done a quality job of getting the runs in when we need to.

“Man on third, no outs. Man on third, one out. Man on second … We haven’t been doing a good job at the little things, which leads to stretches like we’re in right now.”

Del Chiaro has already had a closed-door meeting with his guys about their play, which hasn’t had the desired effect, yet. There have been a significant number of roster moves the past week, though the manager said that was coincidental.

“What I’ve told them is that this is a man’s game, you can’t run from it,” he said. “You’ve got to come out every single night, roll out there and expect to win. We’ve got to face this by staring it in the eyes and hopefully get ourselves out of this.”

“Right now, everything that can go wrong seems to be happening to us,” Hatton said. “Every way you could possibly lose, it seems like we’ve run into this past week.”

The teams play again Wednesday night at 6:35.

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