Kane County Notes: Cahill, Kershaw Duel

Geneva, IL- Clayton Kershaw, rated as the number one prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization by Baseball America, lived up to his billing pitching six innings of scoreless one-hit ball en route to leading the Great Lakes Loons over the Kane County Cougars 3-0 Saturday at Elfstrom Stadium. The Cougars' Trevor Cahill was nearly as effective, throwing five shutout innings in the loss.

The loss is the Cougars second straight and is only the fourth time this season they have failed to score a run. Despite the loss, former number one draft pick Trevor Cahill had a strong performance pitching five innings of three-hit ball without surrendering a run. In addition to only allowing three hits, Cahill also fanned six Loons batters.

Cahill's second start was significantly better than his first where he failed to get out of the first inning.

"I've been working hard this week and I just went out there and threw strikes," said Cahill.

"Last time everyone was fouling off pitches and I got pulled because of a high pitch count. Today those same pitches resulted in ground balls and outs."

Manager Aaron Nieckula said he pulled Cahill in the fifth inning due to his pitch count reaching 75.

Cahill claimed his arm was in good shape and that he could have kept going if he was needed. Despite the loss, Nieckula was happy to see Cahill pitch up to his expectations.

"That's the Cahill that the Oakland A's drafted out of high school last year," said Nieckula.

"He worked ahead in the zone and for a young man, he held great composure out there. Hopefully that's a little foreshadowing for what we can expect in the future."

A pitcher's duel ensued for the first six innings of the game as neither starting pitcher relinquished a run. Clayton Kershaw, who nearly threw a no-hitter, struck out nine Cougars including five of the first six he faced thanks in large to his 96-mph fastball.

"Our hitters had a tough time laying off the high cheddar early in the game," said Nieckula. "He (Kershaw) made good pitches when he needed to and he really controlled the game."

The game remained scoreless until the Loons struck in the top of the seventh. Henry Rodriguez, who had taken over for Cahill, walked 3B Josh Bell with one out. Scott Van Slyke followed the walk by smacking a ball to third base that deflected off Alex Valdez's glove in what may have been an inning-ending double play (it was ruled a hit).

"That's a play Valdez makes nine out of ten times," said Nieckula.

With runners on first and second, Rodriguez got Juan Apodaca to ground out. However, after walking the bases loaded with two outs, Rodriguez gave up a hit to leadoff man Bridger Hunt that scored Bell and Van Slyke giving the Loons a 2-0 lead.

The Loons tacked on another run in the eighth inning after four straight hits plated LF James Peterson.

The Cougars nearly came back in the bottom of the ninth after loading the bases on two walks and a pinch-hit single by Haas Pratt. However, with one out, 2B Larry Cobb struck out looking and LF Matt Sulentic grounded out to the pitcher to end the game. It was another incidence of the Cougars not capitalizing with runners in scoring position.

"Once again we get ourselves in a situation where we have runners in scoring position and we can't get them in," said Nieckula.

"I'm still very proud of the way the men didn't just roll over and play dead. We had a chance to win it near the end and we just didn't come through."

Rodriguez shouldered the loss after pitching 3.2 innings of six-hit ball while giving up three runs. Joe Jones, who came in for Loons pitcher Miguel Sanfler in the ninth, earned the save, his first on the year.

Cougars leadoff hitter Mike Massaro lengthened his hitting streak to 13 games after driving a ball into left-center in the eight inning. He was 1-4 on the day. In addition to Pratt's pinch-hit single, Mike Affronti was the only other Cougar to get a hit on the day, a single in the fourth.

Adolfo Gonzalez reached base four times for the Loons hitting two singles, a double and walking once. Hunt and Eduardo Perez had two hits on the day for the Loons.

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