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Kernels Rally For Sixth Straight Win

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    CEDAR RAPIDS He had a game on the road last week where he hit two home runs. He tripled into the gap in his first at-bat Monday night.

    Let's just say Mitch Garver has been hitting the ball with authority lately. An OPS (on base-plus slugging percentage) that's over 1.0 and ranks in the top five of the Midwest League doesn't lie.

    Yet it was a crummy little nubber off the end of his bat in the bottom of the ninth inning that sent a cold bunch of Cedar Rapids Kernels and their fans home happy. An infield single with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning capped a three-run rally that gave the Men of Corn a 5-4 win over South Bend at Memorial Stadium.

    It's the sixth win in a row for Cedar Rapids (8-3).

    "I think everyone is starting to get really comfortable," Garver said. "I've been really comfortable with these guys, and I think we're starting to mold together."

    A bases-loaded walk to Zack Larson tied the game and gave Garver a chance to be the hero. He anhiliated a 2-1 pitch from losing reliever Daniel Gibson (0-2) well into the chilly night and ? that went well foul down the left-field line, worked a full count, then made just enough contact to bounce one off Gibson and slowly to the shortstop, who had no play.

    "At that point, I was just trying to put the ball in play," he said. "Anything can happen in this cold weather. My swing has been feeling pretty good, so if I put it in play there, I thought good things would happen."

    "He's been taking professional at-bats," Kernels Manager Jake Mauer said. "He's got a pretty good feel for hitting. He knows where the barrel (of the bat) is. He's going to anchor that middle of the lineup for us. Even that last at-bat, he competed and battled. The guy threw him a changeup, and he didn't swing through it. He just put it in play and won the game."

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