Two Combine To No-Hit The Kernels

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

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By Jason Kristufek

CEDAR RAPIDS — Believe it or not, Sugar Ray Marimon couldn’t make it out of the first inning of his start against the Cedar Rapids Kernels last June 20.

Then a member of the Burlington Bees, the pitcher from Colombia was absolutely squashed for nine hits and 10 runs in two-thirds of an inning. He essentially was serving up batting practice.

“I felt so bad about that,” said Marimon. “But I feel better tonight. I don’t remember last year because I was focusing on this game.”

Focusing very well, apparently. Marimon and reliever Chas Byrne combined on a no-hitter as their Kane County Cougars handed the Kernels a ninth straight loss Wednesday night, 2-0, before 3,064 fans at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The parent Kansas City Royals changed Midwest League affiliates this season, if you’re wondering about Marimon’s team switch.

“He pitched a gem,” said Kernels Manager Brent Del Chiaro. “Hats off to him … Obviously he learned from last season.”

Marimon – 2-2 with a 3.41 earned run average coming in – was roughed up by Cedar Rapids in a start here earlier this season, too, but he changed speeds deftly last night, walking two and striking out seven in 7 2/3 innings. Few balls were hit hard against the 22-year-old right-hander.

Kane County had a couple of good defensive plays to preserve the no-no. Second baseman Yowill Espinal ranged toward the middle to field a Wes Hatton grounder in the seventh and threw him out.

Center field Alex Llanos dove feet first and caught a bloop off the bat of Jeremy Cruz with one out in the eighth.

Marimon was removed after Ricky Alvarez reached on a third base throwing error after reaching the 100-pitch mark. Byrne retired the next four hitters, striking out Hatton looking to end the combined gem.

“I called (the Royals) in the seventh inning and told them there’s a situation that’s playing out now,” said Kane County pitching coach Jim Brower. “They said this was organizational policy, wish him the best. We had a guy who could follow up with a zero, and it worked out. For the team. For Marimon, it would have been great to keep him out there.”

“I feel honored that they picked me to be the guy to (close it out),” said Byrne. “I wasn’t out there thinking about myself. I was out there thinking about Sugar. I’m just glad I could do it for him.”

Marimon was asked what he was thinking when he saw Manager Vance Wilson come out of the dugout and ask for the baseball.

“I felt good, I wanted to continue,” he said, through teammate and interpreter Julio Aparicio. “But the pitching coach has control of the pitch (count). He just told me ‘Done.’”

It was the second time in as many seasons the Kernels have been no-hit at home. Jake Odorizzi and the since-released Adrian Rosario combined for a no-no for Wisconsin in a late August game last season.

This was the fifth no-hitter at the newer Memorial Stadium, the third by the opponent.

The teams conclude their series Thursday at noon.

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