Kane County Notebook: Cougars Go Cold

After a strong first half of the season, the Kane County Cougars have gotten off to a rough start to the second half. David Malamut updates us on the Cougars' rough week of June 23.

Overview For The Week Of June 23-29

It would be great if the Cougars hitters would start producing, then they might get back to a .500 record in the second half of the season. Right now they are 4-7 and in sixth in their divison. They have lost five in a row. The hitters have really struggled. They are hitting .247 for the year, but the team average was in the .260s most of the year. As for the pitching, yes, the ERA has gone up, but not by much.

This week, the Cougars won one game out of seven. They were outscored 46-28. The one game they won, they won 7-1. The last four games have been heartbreakers as they have been losses by two runs or less.

On Monday, they started a series in the Quad Cities, against the River Bandits. They lost the first game 8-5. Giving up two runs in each of the middle innings, Scott Mitchinson and Chad Kerfoot did not pitch well. The Cougars did come back to score twice in the ninth. One of those was on a wild pitch and the other was a pinch hit RBI single by Greg Dowling.

Tuesday would be the only win of the week for the Cougars. The offense woke up for two innings, scoring three runs apiece in those innings. Larry Cobb and Corey Brown had back-to-back run scoring doubles in one inning. Scott Hodsdon pitched well, along with the rest of the bullpen. A's second round pick Tyson Ross made his pro debut.

Wednesday, the Cougars got behind early and never got back into the game. Kane County scored first but that would be the only run they would score, as the Bandits scored three times in the first two innings to get the advantage. Scott Deal was hammered in his start, giving up 11 hits and six runs.

Thursday was the final game of the series in the Quad Cities. The Cougars would lose 6-4. Corey Brown had a homer and a two-run double. Brad Hertzler made the start for the promoted Craig Italiano and went into the fourth. Homers by the Bandits Matt Arburr and Charlie Kingrey did in the Cougars.

Finally getting out of Davenport and into Peoria for a series, the Cougars looked to get back to their early season form. Unfortunately, in the end it didn't happen. The Cougars were winning 7-5 going into the bottom of the ninth. Adam Klein hit his first pro homer. Larry Cobb, Corey Brown and Jake Smith also homered and Toddric Johnson had two doubles. In the ninth, one run scored via a wild pitch by Justin Friend. The second run by a single by Nate Samson. The third scored via a bad throw by third baseman Justin Frash to end the game.

Another day, another close game. On Saturday, the Cougars lost 3-2 in Peoria. Adam Klein drove in both of the Cougars' runs with a double in the fifth inning. Tyson Ross made his first pro start and went three innings, giving up one run. The Chiefs tied the game in the ninth on a fielder's choice. Then in the 11th inning, Chad Kerfoot threw a wild pitch to allow Nate Samson to score the winning run with the bases loaded and one out.

It was a tie game at three through three innings on Sunday in Peoria. Adam Klein scored via a balk in the first. Toddric Johnson and Shane Keough drove home Corey Brown and Greg Dowling in the third for the other Cougars' runs. Scott Hodsdon gave up three runs in the first, and another in the fourth inning. Leonardo Espinal pitched well in relief, but the Cougars fell 4-3.

Player Highlights

Scott Deal has been really hittable in his last two outings, during which he has given up 18 hits in 12.1 innings. Leonardo Espinal has pitched very well in relief. He hasn't given up an earned run since May 26th, a span of 12 innings. Before his meltdown on Friday, Justin Friend hadn't allowed a run since June 2nd.

Jason Glushon, recently added to the roster from Stockton, was great in relief on Saturday. He went four innings, giving up two hits, and getting three strikeouts. Brad Hertzler is now in the starting rotation after starting the year in the bullpen. In his start this week, he went 3.2 innings, giving up eight hits and five runs in the loss.

Scott Hodsdon has been good latley. He did give up a lot of hits on Sunday (11), but he has gotten into the sixth inning in his last five starts (1-2). In four of them, he gave up two runs or less.

Chad Kerfoot has been having a couple of rough outings recently. On Monday, he gave up five hits and four runs in three innings with two wild pitches and a balk. On Saturday, he gave up five hits and two runs (one earned), in 3.1 innings.

Scott Mitchinson has been removed from the rotation. In his one outing this week on Monday, he went 3.2 innings. He gave up five hits and three runs in the loss. He has hit two batters in each of his last two games.

Jamie Richmond bounced back after a rough outing on last Sunday. On Friday, he gave up seven hits and five runs (four earned) in seven innings.

Tyson Ross pitched twice this week for the Cougars and pitched well in limited innings after getting drafted this year. In his start, he faced 11 hitters, went three innings, gave up two hits and one run. He didn't walk anyone and struck out three.

Lance Sewell has struggled recently. In his outing this week, he went three innings, giving up three hits and one run. The bright spot is he struck out five of the 13 hitters he faced.

Nick Walters pitched 2.2 innings this week over two outings. In the first outing, he gave up an unearned run. In the second outing, he walked one and struck-out one.

Jake Smith had a big game on Friday with a homer, two-runs batted in, and a sacrifice fly. He has hit in three out of the four games since his return from extended spring training.

The only game Larry Cobb did not have a hit in this week was Sunday's game. He had two hits on Thursday and Friday. This week, he had two doubles, a homer and five runs batted in.

Justin Frash had a great week. He had two hits each on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Three of those hits were doubles and he had a run batted in. Matt Ray finally got a hit on Friday, as he was 0 for his last 22 with 13 strikeouts.

After commiting four errors at shortstop last week, Michael Richard only commited one this week. He also had a two-hit game (Wednesday).

Corey Brown is red-hot. He has a seven game hitting streak (12-28 2 HR, 5 2B, 7 RBI, 3 R, 4 BB).

Toddric Johnson came off the disabled list on Monday. He has hit in five of the seven games he has played since then, including two hits on Friday and Sunday, with three doubles.

Shane Keough had four hits this week. He also struck out five times. Adam Klein had a good week. He hit his first pro homer and on Thursday and on Sunday he had three walks in each game.

Roster Notes And Upcoming Games

This week saw some more transactions for the Cougars. Danny Hamblin retired and Toddric Johnson came off the disabled lis on Monday. Dante Love went to Vancouver on Thursday, while Dusty Napoleon went to Vancouver on Friday to become a first baseman. Jason Glushon and Juan Nunez came to the Cougars from Stockton and Vancouver, respectively.

Next week, on Monday the Cougars complete their four-game set against the Peoria Chiefs (Chicago Cubs). Then its back home for four games against the Burlington Bees (Kansas City). Over the weekend, they go to Cedar Rapids (Anaheim).

About the writer

David Malamut has been a season ticket holder of the Cougars for the past 11 years. He has also been writing a daily website about the team for that long at http://malamut.net. David wrote a book about the history of the Cougars in 2005. Baseball In Kane County, Arcadia Publishing.

For daily updates on the Cougars, stats and game stories please go to my website, Voice of A Season Ticket Holder, http://malamut.net.

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