Kernels Fall Again, This Time to Beloit

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

Tools

By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR RAPIDS — The weather didn’t help. The quality of the on-field product hasn’t, either.

Both are reasons the Cedar Rapids Kernels are on pace to average the fewest amount of fans since the newer Veterans Memorial Stadium opened in 2002.

The Kernels went into their home game last night against Beloit ranked 13th out of 16 teams in the Midwest League in attendance, averaging 2,345, about 100 fans per game less than last season. Total attendance was just shy of 148,000.

“It’s been a frustrating year,” General Manager Doug Nelson said before a 11-8 loss to Beloit. “Because we’ve doubled our entertainment promotions, we did eight giveaways every Friday, we’ve had a number of fireworks nights. But what has hurt us is that Mother Nature hasn’t cooperated.”

It was a cold April, Nelson pointed out, followed by a two-month run of record high temperatures that kept fans away from the park and in their air-conditioned homes.

“I’m actually happy we’re doing as well as we are,” he said.

The Kernels dropped to 50-83 overall and 18-45 in the second half with a loss in a game that was slow-pitch softball like offensively. Attribute a lot of that to a 13-inning game Sunday in which both clubs used up their bullpens.

That meant starters Frank DeJiulio (Kernels) and Tyler Jones (Beloit) were left in despite being generally ineffective. Beloit had 18 hits, four each from Drew Leachman and A.J. Pettersen. and three from Eddie Rosario, who had a home run and four RBIs.

Leachman finished a triple shy of the cycle and Rosario a double. The Kernels have the fewest wins of any of the 127 full-season minor-league teams, which Nelson said has not been a boost at the gate.

“Where it really starts to impact is from mid-August on,” he said. “From that point, once school starts, we really need to have a winning record and have a drive toward the playoffs to maintain fan interest.”

The teams play the final game of their four-game series Tuesday at 6:35. The Kernels conclude their home schedule with games Saturday, Sunday and Monday against Clinton.

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