With a flurry of early offense, the visiting Cedar Rapids Kernels jumped out to a quick lead and hung on to hold off the Kane County Cougars, 5-2, in front of 8,441 fans on Friday night at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
Jose Rosario (0-1) allowed Byron Buxton to reach base on a single to start the ballgame, but Buxton but was only able to advance to second with two outs. Cedar Rapids (34-19) came through anyway as Buxton scored on a Dalton Hicks basehit. Hicks came home on a run-scoring double by Adam Brett Walker.
Jose Berrios (4-2) coughed up a run in the bottom of the inning, but the Cougars (24-28) could have had more. Pin-Chieh Chen walked to start things and scored on a hit from Dan Vogelbach. Jeimer Candelario followed by reaching on an error and Rock Shoulders walked, but Gioskar Amaya hit into a double play to end the threat.
Cedar Rapids picked up 3 more runs against Rosario in the top of the third, again with two outs. Travis Harrison singled Walker home before scoring on a hit from JD Williams, who came around to score on Michael Quesada's double.
Rosario lasted 5 innings while Eddie Orozco and Brian Smith came out of the bullpen to combine for 4 shutout innings. That kept the Cougars down four runs entering the ninth.
Marco Hernandez pulled the Cougars closer by doubling in Amaya but that was as close as Kane County would get.
The Cougars and Kernels play Game 2 of their four-game set on Saturday (6:30 p.m.) at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. Right-hander Tayler Scott (2-1) starts for the Cougars against lefty Brett Lee (3-3). For tickets, please call (630) 232-8811 or visit www.kccougars.com.