Kane County Notebook: Cougars Vying For First

The Kane County Cougars are making a push towards the playoffs, as they maintain a slim lead in the first-half division title race going into the first-half's final week. We have a report from David Malamut on the Cougars' play during this past week...

The Kane County Cougars broke even this week, as they went 4-3 and maintained their lead in the division. As of Sunday, they were one game up on Cedar Rapids and Clinton with eight games to go in the first half.

Last Monday, the Cougars would beat Peoria at home by a score of 5-4. Kenneth Smalley pitched well in six innings of work. He gave up five hits and three runs. After the first inning, in which he gave up four hits and three runs, he was really good. The rest of his outing he gave up one hit and no runs. Smalley would walk two in that period.

Steve Kleen had three hits, and was a triple short of the cycle. He reached base all four times he came to the plate. Kleen would drive in four runs. Kleen's homer was the game winning homer, as he hit it in the seventh with the score tied. Jason Christian had two hits, a triple and a bunt single.

Tuesday saw the Cougars go 10 innings to beat the Chiefs, 5-4. Matt Fitts had a good outing. He went into the fifth inning, giving up four hits and three earned runs. He walked three however and did not strikeout anyone. The bullpen was scoreless, as Michael Hart, Jason Ray and Trey Barham combined to toss five scoreless frames. Grant Desme took the first pitch he saw as the leadoff hitter in the 10th inning deep to left center to win the game. Desme had three hits and a walk.

Wednesday saw the Cougars make the trip to Appleton, Wisconsin, to face the Timber Rattlers. They would lose three out four of the games in the series. In the first game they lost 7-4, when the Rattlers scored three runs in the ninth. Desme and Petey Paramore both had a homer. Paramore had three hits and Coleman had two. Anthony Capra pitched well. He went five innings with three hits and two runs. His main problem was five walks. Scott Deal then came in an gave up four hits and two runs in an inning. Jamie Richmond gave up the same, but in two innings.

Again the Cougars would lose to the Rattlers on Thursday, this time 7-3. They would give up three runs in the late innings. Shawn Haviland started and lasted five innings. He would give up six hits and three earned runs. Barham gave up a run in two innings of work and Hart gave up two runs in an inning. The game on Friday went to the Cougars, with a 2-1 win. Matt Ray would get three singles, and Franklin Hernandez got two hits. Starter Pedro Figueroa was great. He went six innings, giving up six hits and one unearned run. His main problem was four walks. He also was helped out by three inning-ending double plays. Brett Hunter, Justin Murray and Mickey Storey closed out the game with scoreless innings each.

Smalley had a tough luck loss on Saturday. He went seven innings, giving up three hits and one earned run. One run against was via an error on him and an error on Kleen, on the same play. The other run was a sacrifice fly after a leadoff triple in the seventh. Smalley walked three and struck out seven. Jason Christian scored the only Cougar run on a homer in the fifth. Christian and Franklin Hernandez both had two hits.

Smalley's two starts and the performance of Matt Fitts on Sunday were the performances of the week. Fitts had his best outing as a Cougar. He went six innings, giving up four hits and no runs. He walked three and struck out six. The arm of Hernandez is the reason he didn't allow any runs, as the outfielder nailed a runner at home in the third. Richmond, Murray and Storey pitched great out of the bullpen in the win against Cedar Rapids. Grant Desme drove in the only two runs of the game in the first inning, after Christian and Coleman walked. Desme and Jeremy Barfield both had two hits.

Roster Notes

Hart went on the disabled list late in the week with elbow and shoulder soreness. Josue Selenes came off of the disabled list to take his place on the roster.


Next week the Cougars continue their series in Cedar Rapids (Anaheim), Monday-Wednesday, which is a battle to see who wins the division. The Cougars magic number is seven. Then the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Milwaukee) come to town Thursday-Sunday to finish off the first half of the season. Next Tuesday is the All-Star game in Clinton, Iowa.

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. You can also follow the Cougars on my twitter page, http://twitter.com/davidmalamut

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