CEDAR RAPIDS — Steve Reicks got pulled aside after going through the gates of Veterans Memorial Stadium Wednesday night and was asked a question. He gave the right answer.
“They asked me if I was related to any employees of the park,” the Solon man said during the Cedar Rapids Kernels’ 5-2 win over Burlington. “Thankfully, I said no. There are lot of Reicks around.”
This Reicks was a lucky Reicks, officially the two-millionth fan at the ballpark, which opened in 2002. Steve, his wife, Tammy, and their children, Lindsey (14) and Mitch (12) were awarded an oversized check for $1,500 by Kernels President Gary Keoppel and a gift-wrapped basket that included another $1,500 in prizes, things like gift certificates to local businesses and even tickets to a Minnesota Twins game.
The best part was that the family had no idea this was remotely a possibility when it decided to come to the game. This was a total surprise, a grand one.
“We had heard about it earlier in the season,” Tammy Reicks said. “But not that it would happen tonight. We were coming here for a big Collins (Credit Union) event, and this happened. Can’t believe it. We’ve never won anything like this before.”
The Reicks aren’t ballpark regulars, but attend multiple games each season. They were part of a crowd of 2,233 that actually is slightly under the Kernels’ season average of 2,308.
The club is sure to surpass last season’s total attendance of 160,064, which was the lowest at the 11-year-old stadium. The new partnership with the Minnesota Twins has been a boon.
You continue to see that on the field, as Cedar Rapids improved to 6-0 in the Midwest League’s second half, 46-28 overall. Jose Berrios threw seven terrific innings, striking out nine.
"He was aggressive with his fastball, challenging hitters," said Kernels manager Jake Mauer. "(Catcher Michael) Quesada did a nice job keeping him at task. He wiggled out of trouble in that third. The first and third, he was in a little trouble, but he was able to pitch out of it and limit the damage. That's been the key these last three or four days for us. When our starters have gotten in trouble, it has only been a run or two."
D.J. Hicks drove in a pair of runs to increase his MWL-leading RBI total to 71 in 72 games. Last season’s RBI leader for the Kernels was Andy Workman ... with 68.
Newcomer Max Kepler continues to impress, hitting his second home run in as many days, a bomb pulled to right field. Burlington outfielder Andrew Ray homered against Berrios to increase his home run streak to five consecutive games.
The teams play again Thursday night at 6:35.
Here is the game boxscore: