Kane County Notebook: All-Stars Abound

The Kane County Cougars held steady this week with a .500 record and maintained their spot in first place. The team also learned who was getting a ticket to the All-Star game. David Malamut gives us an update inside...

This week the Kane County Cougars were 3-3 and that included a three-game losing streak. They also lost sole possession of first place for a few days, but would end the week back in first by a game over Cedar Rapids.

As of Sunday, Kane County is fourth in the league in hitting with a .261 average. They are tied with Fort Wayne for first in the league with 300 runs scored and are tied for first with West Michigan with 110 doubles. The Cougars are in third place in the league with 45 homers and are also in fourth place with 197 walks. Unfortunately, they are also in third with 455 strikeouts.

The pitching is fourth in the league in earned run average with a 3.57. They are 12th in the league with 193 earned runs allowed. Plus, they are 10th in the league with 30 homers allowed.

The week started out good enough, as the Cougars beat the Clinton Lumberkings 4-2 in game one of the series. The winning runs came in a two-run ninth. Grant Desme doubled home Carlos Arrieche and Steve Kleen. Then Mickey Storey came on for the save. Pedro Figueroa pitched great in six innings of work. He gave up four hits and one earned run. He basically had one bad inning, his last. He would give up both his runs and three of his four hits in that one inning.

On Wednesday, the Cougars beat Clinton in game two, 3-1. Kenny Smalley pitched one hell of a good game. He went six innings, giving up five hits and no runs. A double-play at home in the sixth helped. Trey Barham then came in and got two strikeouts in an inning of work. Justin Murray gave up a run on three hits in two innings. Jeremy Barfield drove in two runs and Grant Desme had a ninth inning homer.

Losing a game in the 10th inning on Thursday in Clinton wasn't fun for the Cougars. Jamie Richmond gave up a run on two hits in the ninth inning on a long double to right that Desme just couldn't get up high enough to catch, and Barfield just didn't back up. Matt Fitts went five innings, giving up three runs. Brett Hunter then came in and pitched an inning, walking three and giving up a run on a wild pitch. Steve Kleen hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning after two walks.

A five-run eighth inning to lose a game 6-5 just hurts. That is what happened to the Cougars on Friday in the finale of the series in Clinton. Scott Deal gave up six hits and four runs. Mickey Storey gave up the other run. This was after Anthony Capra pitched well, going six innings and giving up two hits and one run. His main problem was five walks, but he struck out six, on 92 pitches. The one run was a homer by Blake Ochoa. Barfield launched a homer to straight away center in the sixth. Dusty Coleman had three hits, along with Petey Paramore.

Finally home after a 10-game, 11-day road trip, the Cougars just had nothing in a 8-1 loss on Saturday. Shawn Haviland had a horrible outing, going four and one thirds innings and giving up seven hits and six runs. Barham and Jason Ray both gave up runs as well. Steve Kleen had two of the Cougars three hits, two doubles.

It's amazing what one day can do, as the Cougars would beat the Chiefs 7-1 on Sunday. Pedro Figueroa pitched a great game. He went seven innings, giving up four hits and no runs. He got six strikeouts, and four double-plays. The only run against came from a Ryan Flaherty homer off of Brett Hunter in the eighth. Christopher Berroa hit his first professional homer. He would get on base three times, as the leadoff man. Dusty Napoleon had three singled up the middle, driving in two runs.

All-Star Seven

The Cougars have seven all-star selections from the Midwest League this year. Steve Kleen, Jason Christian and Dusty Coleman were all named starters for the west division, while Jeremy Barfield was named the starting DH. Shawn Haviland, Jamie Richmond and Kenny Smalley all were named to the pitching staff.

Kleen has been playing very well defensively for the Cougars this year. He has hit fourth in the lineup most games, and is hitting with what seems like more power as the year goes by.

Dusty Coleman has really been awesome this year. He has hit to all fields, and with power. He has two walk-off homers on the year. His defense has been solid. Jason Christian has been making the move to third this year, and he has had some difficulty with the transition at times, other times it has been a seamless transition. He has hit second most of the year and has 16 stolen bases in 17 chances and a team-best three triples.

Kenny Smalley is the league leader in earned run average. He has five wins and has pitched very well. Shawn Haviland has been almost an ace for the team this year, as he has shutdown teams.

Jamie Richmond is in his second year with the Cougars, this year out of the bullpen, and he has had his ups and downs as a long man. Jeremy Barfield leads the Cougars in batting average with a .341 mark. He made the team despite starting the season at extended spring training. The players are voted on by the managers around the league. Despite having seven all-stars, there were some Cougars who were snubbed, in particular Grant Desme. He has been among the best players on the team. Desme has a good combination of power and speed, plus he has moved back to centerfield.

Coming Up

Next up on the menu for the Cougars are the Peoria Chiefs and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

The Cougars continue the series at home against the Peoria Chiefs (Chicago Cubs) on Monday and Tuesday. Then they go up to Appleton, Wisconsin, to face the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Milwaukee Brewers) for four games, Wednesday through Saturday. After that they go to Cedar Rapids Kernels (Anaheim Angels) on Sunday for four games.

Stat of the Week

The Cougars are 9-1 in game two of a series after they lost the first game.

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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