CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Despite the late efforts from Ramon Hernandez, the Kane County Cougars never grabbed a lead against the Cedar Rapids Kernels and dropped the series opener by a score of 6-5 from Perfect Game Field Wednesday evening.
Down 5-3 into the seventh inning, Anfernee Grier drew a leadoff walk against Ryan Mason on a border line pitch to bring the tying run up to the plate. Two batters later, Ramon Hernandez sent a two-run homer over the left field wall to tie the contest at five.
Connor Grey (0-1) was pulled from the bullpen in the third in an emergency setting and kept the Cougars within range for five innings. In the bottom of the eighth Cedar Rapids retook the advantage against Grey as Lewin Diaz started the frame with his third double of the game. After a wild pitch allowed Diaz to reach third base, Jimmy Kerrigan rolled an RBI single through the right side of the infield to put Cedar Rapids ahead 6-5. Erbert Gonzalez entered after the single and struck out the side after hitting the first batter he faced.
Hector Lujan (1) finished the game with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Most of the offense in the game came in the opening stages as Cedar Rapids knocked Cougar starter Mack Lemieux for three runs in the opening inning. Diaz's first two-bagger came with the bases loaded for a 2-0 Kernels lead before Kerrigan drove in another run on a ground out.
The Cougars first found the scoreboard after a couple of Cedar Rapids errors with two outs in the second. Adam Walton singled to load the bases before Manny Jefferson split the right side of the infield with a two-run single. Jefferson collected a double his next at-bat.
Diaz double home another two runs in the bottom of the second for a 5-3 lead as the final batter to face Lemieux.
The only other run for the Cougars came on Stephen Smith's infield single. Logan Lombana (1-0) earned the win with a scoreless eighth.
Game 2 of the series shifts to Northwestern Medicine Field Thursday. The Cougars will send right-hander Sam McWilliams to the mound against the Kernels' righty Clark Beeker. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.