Walker Goes Yard, Kernels Beat Burlington
By Jeff Johnson, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Just kinda weird. That's for regular Cedar Rapids Kernels fans and seven of the guys they have watched play a lot of baseball.
The Burlington Bees made their first visit of the season to Veterans Memorial Stadium last night, which could best be described as Reunion Night. Or the old Kernels versus the new Kernels.
Burlington, of course, is affiliated with the Los Angeles Angels, whose low-Class A club was Cedar Rapids for 20 years. Seven Bees and Manager Jamie Burke were part of the 2012 Kernels.
"It is weird, it's different," said Burlington pitcher Cam Bedrosian, before a 5-4 Kernels win. "It's different being on the other side of the field, the other side of the grass, the other dugout. But it's OK. It's good to be back."
Bedrosian threw 2 1/3 hitless innings in relief of starter Ryan Crowley, another 2012 Kernel, who gave up Adam Brett Walker's monstrous sixth-inning grand slam to take the loss. Center fielder Chevy Clarke made a great over-the-head diving catch to rob Cedar Rapids of a run in the fourth, then three innings later misplayed a routine fly into a four-base error that allowed Byron Buxton to score.
But those were the old Kernels, and this was a new Kernels night. Walker's granny was over the batter's eye in dead center, a 450-plus foot shot that gave him 10 home runs and a whopping 44 RBIs in just 35 games.
It was his third grand slam.
"I just know going up there with the bases loaded to try and get a pitch to handle," Walker said. "He's got to come to me. I'm sure most pitchers don't want to walk a guy with the bases loaded, so I just try and look for a pitch up and just try to hit it hard. It's paid off a couple times now."
By the way, Walker is on pace for a 176 RBI season.
"It just seems that he's always coming up with runners in scoring position," said Kernels Manager Jake Mauer. "More times than not, he just bears down. I don't know if it's just something inate with him. But he takes good swings with runners in scoring position, doesn't leave a lot of RBIs out there."
The Kernels (25-11) survived a four-error night, getting seven very solid innings from starting pitcher Brett Lee (3-2). David Hurlbut came on and stranded the tying run at third and go-ahead run at first for his third save.
The teams play a double-header Wednesday at 5:30.