Kane County Notebook: Cougars Eye Playoffs

The Kane County Cougars finished up their 2008 regular season on Monday. David Malamut reviews the final nine games and looks ahead to the Cougars' upcoming playoff series inside...

The Kane County Cougars went 3-6 to finish out the regular season. Kane County was 33-37 in the second half of the season and 72-66 overall. Kane County will be heading to the post-season because they clinched a wild card spot during the first half of the season.

On Sunday, August 24th, the Cougars would lose 3-1 to the Clinton Lumberkings. Tyson Ross started and got into trouble in the second inning, giving up two runs. A walk and an error didn't help Ross' cause. He would strike-out seven and allow only three hits in 3.2 innings. Michael Richard and Petey Paramore both had two hits.

On Monday, August 25th, the Cougars would lose in Beloit, 4-3, in 11 innings in the first of a four-game series. Leonardo Espinal took the loss. In the 11th, he walked the leadoff man, and after a strike-out and a ground-out, he would give up the game-winning single. Jamie Richmond pitched well, going into the seventh inning. He gave up six hits and three runs, two earned.

The Cougars worked overtime again and took game two of the series, 3-2, in 10 innings. Greg Dowling doubled home Toddric Johnson in the 10th to win the game. Jake Smith had moved Johnson to second with a good sacrifice bunt. Anthony Capra pitched very well. In seven innings, he would give up four hits and two runs.

Kane County got blown out by Beloit in the third game of the series, 10-1. Scott Deal lasted into the fourth inning, giving up six hits and six runs. An error by outfielder Shane Keough really hurt in the five-run fourth inning.

In the final game of the series, the Cougars lost 3-2 to Beloit. Scott Hodsdon pitched very well. He went six innings and allowed three hits and no runs. He struck out five. Leonardo Espinal pitched two innings, giving up five hits and two runs for the loss.

Peoria came to town on Friday for the final series of the regular season. The Cougars would win 6-3. Greg Dowling and Larry Cobb hit homers and Tyson Ross pitched well. He gave up five hits and two runs in five innings. He seemed to be working inside more and getting a lot of ground balls, 10 grounders to three fly ball outs, in fact. He struck out two.

Jamie Richmond did not have a good start on Saturday as he lasted into the fifth inning, giving up 10 hits and six runs for his 11th loss of the season. He gave up two homers, and just got the ball up too much. Greg Dowling hit his 28th career home run for the Cougars. He surpasses Jason Stokes (2001) for most homers in a career with Kane County.

The game on Sunday was a miserable one for Kane County. The Cougars would kick the ball around for six errors, there could have been more. They would lose 8-6 after being behind 5-0 after two and a half innings.

In a complete reversal, the final game of the regular season was a good game for Kane County, as the Cougars won 13-4 over Peoria. Matt Ray hit a homer, Toddric Johnson had three hits, and the Cougars scored nine runs in the fifth inning.

Roster Moves

The Cougars got some reinforcements in time for the playoffs. Infielder Jason Christian and left-hander Ben Hornbeck came on the 26th and Brett Hunter came on the 29th. All three players are from the 2008 draft class.

Christian appeared in six games for Kane County at second base and hit .320 with a double (eight hits in 25 at-bats). Hornbeck allowed a run and three hits in four innings and struck-out five. He earned one of the wins this week. Hunter made two appearances and allowed one run on no hits and two walks in 1.2 innings.

Kane County ended the season with seven members of the 2008 draft class on its roster.

Playoff Rotation

The Cougars start the playoffs on Wednesday, September 3rd in Burlington, Iowa. This is a best-of-three series. Carlos Hernandez, Scott Hodsdon and Tyson Ross will be the starters.

Hernandez began the year with Vancouver, but came on strong with the Cougars after a late-July promotion. The lefty went 5-0 with a 2.29 ERA in 35.1 innings. He struck-out 29 and walked seven. For both Vancouver and Kane County, Hernandez was 7-0 with a 2.04 ERA and 67 strike-outs against 14 walks in 75 innings. He allowed only one homerun this season and held opposing batters to a .230 average.

Hodsdon recovered from a slow April to put together an outstanding season. In 120 innings for the Cougars, he went 5-8 with a 2.93 ERA. He walked only 23 batters all season. In April, Hodsdon had a 6.75 ERA, but he posted a 1.98 ERA after the All-Star break.

Ross, the A's second pick in the 2008 draft, missed almost six weeks with a sore right shoulder in July and August. He threw only 19.1 innings for the Cougars, posting a 4.66 ERA. He had 16 strike-outs and five walks and held opposing batters to a .219 average.

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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