The Beloit Snappers third baseman and Minnesota Twins mega-prospect crushed a two-run home run to left-center field in the ninth inning to lift his team to a 5-3 win over the Kernels in the second game of a pseudo double-header at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Sano admired his homer a little too much for the Kernels, which led to a brief benches-clearing incident.
Cedar Rapids won the completion of a suspended game from Thursday night, 9-6.
“I think he kind of pimped that home run a little bit, and I think that struck some nerves in some of our players that he did that,” said Kernels Manager Jamie Burke.
Sano stood in the batter’s box awhile to watch his homer against relief pitcher Carmine Giardiana. He trotted the bases, but virtually stopped a few feet before touching the plate, taking off his batting helmet as Kernels catcher Abel Baker barked at him.
Sano glared at the Kernels dugout after finally touching the plate, with Kernels players continuing to give him significant grief. He took a step toward Baker, and the dugouts began to empty, with umpires Fernando Rodriguez and Paul Clemons, as well as both teams’ coaching staffs, doing a good job of squelching what could have been an ugly scene.
“We respect the game, but some people do it,” Baker said of “pimping” home runs. “I just told (Sano) to run next time.”
Burke was asked if Sano’s action, or inaction, in this case, bothered him.
“At this level, it does. It really does,” he said. “You know, it’s part of the game. But like I tell my kids, we don’t do that here.”
Sano also homered in the suspended game and has a Midwest League leading eight longballs and 28 RBIs.
“He’s young, but he’s one heck of a player, man. He’s unbelievable,” Burke said. “That’s the best player I’ve seen here — by far.”
Beloit tied the seven-inning schedule game with a pair of seventh-inning runs, the tying one scoring when Eddie Rosario hit a long two-out fly to left field that Kernels left fielder Trevor Hairgrove had to go back on, got twisted around on and couldn’t catch.
Rosario was given a hit.
“I’ll take the blame for that one,” Burke said. “I had just moved him in a couple of steps before that. That’s my fault.”
Burke will manage his club for its game Saturday night in Wisconsin, then take a four-day leave, as pitching coach Chris Gissell did last week. The parent Los Angeles Angels are encouraging all of their minor-league coaches to take brief in-season sabbaticals.
The Kernels had a roster move prior to the game, as starting pitcher Ryan Crowley was promoted to high-Class A Inland Empire. Replacing him is left-handed pitcher Aaron Meade, who joins the team from Angels extended spring training.
Meade was a 10th-round draft pick in 2010 out of Missouri State who pitched last season for Rookie-level Orem.
Here are the boxscores for both games, in order: