The Cedar Rapids Kernels took advantage of a costly error to score three unearned runs in the fourth inning, the only runs of the game, en route to a 3-0 win over the Dayton Dragons on Friday night.
The Dragons loss combined with a win by second-place Great Lakes cut the Dragons lead to 2 1/2 games in the Midwest League East Division. There are six games to play in the first half season. The Dragons magic number to clinch a first-half division championship is four. The Lake County Captains, who had been a third team in the race, lost their game on Friday and they were mathematically eliminated from first half contention.
Dragons starting pitcher Joe Boyle struck out seven batters over the first three innings but issued back-to-back walks to start the fourth with game still scoreless. Boyle got a ground ball double play from the third hitter of the inning and left the game with a man at third and two outs. Jake Gilbert replaced Boyle and issued a walk before Wander Javier hit a bouncer to shortstop that hit off the glove of Elly De La Cruz for an error that allowed the first run of the game to score. A bloop double from the next hitter brought in the second run, and a wild pitch scored the third run of the frame to make it 3-0.
The Dragons had the tying run at the plate in the sixth and seventh innings. They finished with just four hits,including three from Justice Thompson. Nick Quintana’s lead-off double in the sixth was the only extra base hit. The Dragons went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position after going 6 for 13 in those situations on Thursday.
Boyle (3-1) was charged with his first loss of the year.