Buxton Homers, Goodrum Gets Big Hit In Kernels' 8-7 Win

By Jeff Johnson (Story) and Scott Saville (Video), Reporters

Kernels infielder Niko Goodrum high fives Kernels manager Jake Mauer after hitting a home run in the first inning at the Cedar Rapids Kernels versus Great Lakes Loons baseball game at the Veterans Memorial Stadium on April 25, 2013. (Kaitlyn Bernauer/The Gazette-KCRG9)

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By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — That really was first base Niko Goodrum was playing. You weren’t just seeing things.

Goodrum is the most-day’s shortstop for the Cedar Rapids Kernels, where he’s considered a legitimate prospect for the Minnesota Twins. This first base thing has never happened, until Monday afternoon.

“A couple of spring training games and instructs,” Goodrum said, after the Kernels edged Kane County, 8-7, for their 30th win of the still young Midwest League season. “Not in the regular season, though. It was all right. It’s different than shortstop, but it’s still the infield.”

Kernels Manager Jake Mauer has an embarrassment of riches on the infield and has to find time for everyone. He has maneuvered guys here and there but never had the combination he had Monday: Goodrum at first, Claudio Pimentel at second, Jorge Polanco at shortstop and Travis Harrison at third.

Goodrum did fine, though he wandered too far to his right and deflected a grounder that Pimentel would have had for a two-run single in the fourth inning. He circled around but couldn’t catch a foul pop near the stands down the first-base line later in the game.

Forgive him, though, because he had a bases-loaded triple against losing reliefver Nathan Dorris (1-2) the other way into the right-field corner to give the Kernels their first lead, 7-6 in the sixth. Harrison’s solo homer, his seventh, in the seventh, turned out to be the winning run.

“He threw me two curves,” Goodrum said. “I was looking for that two-seamer running away, just hit it into right field, and the ball got down.”

Byron Buxton also homered for Cedar Rapids (30-13) and stole his 19th base.

“Buxton’s ball was crushed, Harrison’s was a no-doubter,” Mauer said. “hat’s what so much fun about this team. You can use your lineup any way you want. We’ve got Buxton, Pimentel, (J.D.) Williams and (Jeremias) Pineda, who can all steal 20 bases.”

The game started an hour and a half late. Sunday night’s severe thunderstorm knocked power out at the park which was not restored until late Monday morning. It also blew the tarp off most of the infield, exposing it to a lot of rain.

High wind also blew the tarp roll into the right-field fence, tearing it in half.

The Kernels have today off, then start a three-game series at Beloit.

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