Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Gary Lucas went through the usual pregame preparation speech.
Don't let this guy beat you. Pitch this guy this way. Don't nibble at the corners, go after hitters.
Then the Cedar Rapids Kernels pitching coach added one final thing to Brett Lee.
"I said 'Go nine tonight,'" Lucas said. "Sometimes as a coach, you throw it out there."
And sometimes a pitcher actually will listen to you, Luke, and do what you say. Lee did go nine innings, throwing the Kernels' first complete game of the season in a 7-1 win over Dayton before 3,234 fans at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
"Great, dude," Lee said. "That was my first one in anything. I mean, seven innings in high school, but that wasn't anything like this. It was extremely fun to do. Definitely made my night."
Definitely made his team's night. The Kernels (54-35, 14-7 second half) were lit up to the tune of 24 runs the first two games of this series, with starting pitchers having mega issues as a whole this turn around the starting rotation.
But Lee calmed that turmoil. The left-hander from St. Petersburg Junior College in Florida didn't give up a hit until one out in the fifth inning, finishing with a five-hitter.
Make that a 92-pitch five-hitter in which he went to a three-ball count just twice. He lived and thrived with his sinker, getting 15 ground-ball outs, 17 if you include a pair of double plays.
Just plain beautiful.
"I felt like I had pretty good control of everything tonight," said Lee, who improved his record to 6-4 and lowered his earned run average to 3.54. "My two-seamer was helping me out a lot. They were just diving after it and rolling over on it."
"He had the sinker working, and it was just about attack mode," Lucas said. "No fear, go after people, don't pick, don't give this impression that you're scared to death if they get a couple of hits early. We just wanted him to turn things around makeup and approach-wise from what we had the last two nights. It was significant."
Lee played with a big lead early. Adam Brett Walker jumped into a tie for the Midwest League league with his 15th home run, a three-run shot to left-center in the first inning.
Four more runs in the third made it a rout and sent Dayton starting pitcher Nick Travieso to the showers early. Reliever Wandy Peralta came in and retired all 17 batters he faced.
The Kernels host Bowling Green on Saturday at 5:05.