Kane County Notebook: Cougars Hold Serve

The first-place Kane County Cougars have held steady over the last eight games, winning four and losing four. David Malamut has a report on the Cougars' last eight contests inside...

Since last Monday, the Kane County Cougars have held serve with a 4-4 record. They remained in first place over the Peoria Chiefs by three games.

The week did not start out that well, as Monday against the Quad City River Bandits (Cardinals), the Cougars would lose 3-1. Kane County started out the game with a run in the first but then couldn't get anything going. The Bandits scored one run in the fourth, sixth and eighth to win the game. Grant Desme had two hits, both doubles and drove home the only run of the game in Jason Christian. Kenneth Smalley started the game and pitched pretty well, in four innings of work, he gave up three hits and one unearned run. He would also strike out five. Matt Fitts then came in and would pick up the loss, in four innings, he gave up three hits and two runs.

Tuesday saw the Cougars play again in the Quad Cities. This would be the final game of the series, a series in which the Cougars would lose three out of four. This time they lost 6-5 in 10 innings. Both teams scored in the 10th, but the Bandits scored two and the Cougars only scored once. Desme had two more hits, and two more runs batted in. Steve Kleen also drove in two runs. The Cougars would steal four bases off of the Bandits. Brett Hunter started and pitched five innings, and he would give up six hits and two runs. Jason Ray then came in and gave up two runs on four hits in an inning and two thirds. Jamie Richmond would ultimately get the loss. In two-thirds of an inning, he gave up two runs. Mike Hart pitched two and one third inning, giving up two hits.

Finally the Cougars would come home, and see the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Mariners) on Wednesday. In this three-game series the Cougars would win two out of three of the games. In the first game, they lost 7-5. Anthony Capra would give up three homers, two to Brock Kjeldgaard and one to Corey Kemp. Capra went into the fifth, giving up eight hits and six runs. The offense did show up though. The Cougars' big inning was the fourth when they scored three runs on four hits. Franklin Hernandez, Jeremy Barfield and Petey Paramore all had run-scoring hits. Paramore had three hits in the game. Dusty Napoleon had four walks, coming around to score on one of them.

The Thursday game was another fun one to see, as somehow the Cougars frustratingly would pull out the win, 7-6. Shawn Haviland started and went seven innings, he would give up four hits and two runs. He threw 108 pitches. Relievers Jose Guzman and Jamie Richmond would keep the game interesting, as they both would give up runs. Richmond gave up three in the ninth to give the Rattlers the lead. Dusty Coleman came through in the clutch again, hitting his second game-winning homer of the year – this time a two-run shot. Matt Ray, Coleman, Kleen and Paramore all had two hits. Napoleon walked two more times, once with the bases loaded.

Friday's game was not that bad of a game, as they Cougars would win 6-3 behind a good performance by Pedro Figueroa. He would go seven innings, giving up six hits and three runs. Twelve out of his 16 in play outs were on the ground. Three of his five strike-outs came in the last four hitters he faced. Mickey Storey came in for the save in the ninth and struck out two. Franklin Hernandez had a two-run double in the first. Coleman had a run-scoring ground-out in the second. Juan Nunez had a run-scoring single in the third and Hernandez had a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Now the fun series. The Cougars played Saturday-Monday against the West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers), who are in first in the Eastern Division. In the first game, the Cougars had Kenny Smalley (who hails from Batavia, Illinois) vs. Casey Crosby (Kaneland, Illinois), two local kids starting against each other in the game. Smalley did well, going five innings and giving up four hits and one earned run. He threw two wild pitches and hit a batter. In the second inning, Smalley walked Ronnie Bourquin and would eventually score on a passed ball on Nunez. Smalley then struck out the next three hitters. The big inning in the game came in the seventh for the Caps, as they scored four runs off of Mike Hart. Three of which would be earned. The Cougars were patient against the Caps as they got five walks off of Crosby, one with the bases loaded. Paramore singled home Hernandez for a run. The Caps would win, 7-4.

On Sunday, the Cougars would take game two of the series, 6-5. Brett Hunter had a very bad start to his outing. He would come on in the second, after Jason Ray made a rehab-type start. Hunter walked the first hitter, then balked him to second. In the third inning, he walked two and then gave up a sacrifice fly. The fourth inning was almost unwatchable. He would walk three and give up three hits. Four runs scored in the inning. Matt Fitts came in and pitched pretty well, as he would give up the hit to score Hunter's final run. After that, he gave up three hits, and pitched four solid innings. Coleman was a homer short of the cycle. He would score twice. Kleen had two hits and Desme had two hits and a sacrifice fly.

In the series finale, the Cougars would beat West Michigan by a score of 6-4. Anthony Capra allowed four runs in five innings in a no-decision. Newcomer Trey Barham, Shawn Haviland and Mickey Storey combined to toss four scoreless innings to help the Cougars win. Kleen had a homer and drove-in three, while Desme and Christian each had two hits.

Cougars Notes

In the West Michigan series, it was the first time the Cougars ever played against a player who was younger than the Cougar franchise itself. Avisail Garcia was born in June of 1991. The Cougars were born in April of 1991.

Desme has a 10-game hitting streak. During that streak, he has a .415 average with six doubles, a triple and a homer. He is hitting .276 with six homers for the year. Desme also has 13 stolen bases in 13 tries.

The Crosby-Smalley match-up had another level of intrigue. Outfielder Jeremy Barfield's Cougars host parent is the grandmother of Crosby. Barfield has shown some rough spots on the bases. He made the last out of an inning trying to steal third and has been caught stealing three out of four attempts. In the outfield, he has shown a great arm, but his routes to the ball need some work.

Hunter's motion was not consistent on Sunday. He has his elbow cocked behind him before he rifles the ball towards home plate. Sometimes the elbow is bent, other times it isn't. Plus, he isn't almost coming over the shoulder at the same angle each time.

Josue Selenes is on the disabled list with an elbow issue, as is Jose Guzman who is on the disabled list with a back problem. He was sent to extended spring training to work on getting healthy.

Next Week

The Cougars complete their series against West Michigan on Monday. Then they go to Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers) on Tuesday-Thursday. After that, the Cougars pick up the rivalry with the Beloit Snappers (Twins) on Friday-Sunday.

About the writer

David Malamut has been a season ticket holder of the Cougars for the past 13 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 David's website, Voice of A Season Ticket Holder, http://malamut.net.

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