CEDAR RAPIDS — Bunt? Not Bryan Haar, not in that situation.
“No, I wasn’t going to bunt,” the Cedar Rapids Kernels third baseman said with a smile after his walk-off double gave his team a 4-3, 11-inning win over Kane County last night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Mitch Garver roped a leadoff double to the gap in left-center field and was replaced on the basepaths by pinch-runner Jon Murphy. Haar got into a two-strike hole against reliever Francisco Carrillo, fouled off an outside fastball, then drilled a pitch off the fence in left-center.
Murphy went back to tag on the bullet and just slid home safely head first. In a cruel twist, the outfielder was released after the game by the parent Minnesota Twins.
“If Garver doesn’t hit a double, we probably do at least consider a bunt there,” Kernels Manager Jake Mauer said. “But I’m glad it was a decision I didn’t have to make. Boy, he tattooed that one. He hit it so hard on a line, had it been more up in the air, it might have ended up in the street. He didn’t miss it, that’s for sure.”
“He gave me the ‘knock them in’ sign,” Haar said. “I’d been pulling off (the ball) all day. I was trying to go to right-center, right field. They were kind of forcing the issue by pitching me away, away, away. Just trying to battle ... got the same pitch as Garver.”
The Kernels scored twice in the eighth inning to make it a 3-3 game. Garver’s two-out RBI to right-center tied it.
The win moved Cedar Rapids (58-58, 27-19) into a tie with Kane County for second place in the Midwest League’s Western Division. Wisconsin won two games Thursday night and leapfrogged both teams by a half-game.
This was just the first of a four-game series that could prove pivotal in the race for the second-half championship. Mauer said his brother, Twins star Joe Mauer, is expected to play Friday, Saturday and Sunday here as he continues his rehab from a strained oblique muscle.
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