CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The Cougars exhaled with a 6-5 win at Cedar Rapids Friday, securing a win after the Kernels rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth.
Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer, rehabbing from a strained oblique, opened the scoring in the ninth with an RBI single.
Mitch Garver knocked a two-run double one batter later.
Cougars pitching hit two batters in the inning, but right-hander Francisco Carrillo struck out Logan Wade with men on second and third to end the game.
Fellow righties and usual late-inning options Jose Arias and Tyler Bremer were unavailable after going to the Miami Marlins organization earlier in the day when the Cubs traded for Major League right-hander Jacob Turner.
The deal left the Cougars with just 10 players from the club’s 25-man, opening day roster.
The Cougars, a Midwest League-best 73-44, scored three times in the first inning on first baseman Jacob Rogers’ bases-clearing double. Rogers joined Shawon Dunston Jr., Chesny Young and Danny Lockhart with two hits.
Catcher Cael Brockmeyer paced the Cougars’ 12-hit attack with a 3-for-4 day.
Michael Wagner earned the victory with four innings of two-hit, five strikeout relief of Jonathan Martinez, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers organization when the Cubs traded Darwin Barney last month.
The Cougars and Kernels will resume their series at 5:05 p.m. today before playing the finale of the four-game set at 2:05 p.m. Sunday.
After an off-day Monday – the final open date of the regular season – the team will begin a three-game homestand against Quad Cities Tuesday.