The once-mighty Kane County Cougars have fallen off their first-half pace considerably when won considers that a 4-3 week is a marked improvement. They finally won a series this week, by sweeping the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, but then they were beaten for three straight games by the Clinton Lumberkings.
They need to start hitting with men on. They are getting runners but are just not hitting when it counts. Their pitching has been pretty good, especially from the starters. Their defense hasn't really been good for awhile.
Monday the Cougars traveled across the Midwest. After ending a series in Lansing, Michigan, they made it to Appleton, Wisconsin, to start a four-game series. The Cougars opened the series with a 5-1 win. Petey Paramore had two hits and starter Mathieu Leblanc-Poirier went into the sixth inning, giving up six hits and one run. Trey Barham, Daniel Thomas and Justin Murray pitched scoreless frames the rest of the way to close out the win.
The Cougars would win 4-2 on Tuesday in Appleton, this time going 10 innings to secure the victory. Michael Spina and Paramore each had run-scoring hits. Jeremy Barfield had a pinch-hit, two-run single in the 10th to win it. Starter Shawn Haviland went six innings giving up eight hits but only one run.
Winning 3-1 on Wednesday, the Cougars would get three hits from Spina and two from Leonardo Gil. Murphy Smith started and went four innings. He gave up three hits and no runs while walking five and striking out five. Scott Deal, Jose Guzman and Thomas had scoreless outings in relief of Smith.
To close out the series in Appleton, the Cougars would squeak by with a 4-3 win on Thursday. Kenneth Smalley improved to 9-4 with his outing. His ERA now sits at 2.20. He would go six innings, giving up six hits and three runs. He gave up one homer and two walks but struck out five. Matt Fitts pitched two scoreless innings. Nino Leyja and Tyler Ladendorf both hit homers and drove in two runs apiece.
The Cougars came home Friday to face Clinton. Home cooking hasn't been good to them lately and that trend continued through the weekend. After Sunday, the Cougars have lost nine out of their last 10 home games.
On Friday they got bombed 11-2. The Lumberkings were in control throughout and scored five runs in the ninth inning to seal it. Anvioris Ramirez started and went six, but didn't have much. He gave up 10 hits and six runs. Deal pitched the ninth giving up five hits and four earned runs. The fun wasn't over though. Spina, who started the game at DH, was ejected and his replacement Barfield was removed due to disciplinary reasons, so the Cougars lost the designated hitter. Deal would strike-out to end the game in his first at-bat as a pro.
It was more of the same on Saturday as the Cougars lost 9-1. It was 6-1 going into the ninth, but they gave up more ninth inning runs. Barham was the highlight pitching-wise as he survived 2.1 innings without giving up a run. The Cougars lone run came on a Spina absolute bomb to left center. It went over the scoreboard into the trees. Leyja had three hits.
The Sunday game was a little more competitive but still basically the same result, as the Cougars lost 5-3. Haviland pitched well, except for one inning in which he gave up three hits and three walks, including a two-run homer. Thomas pitched two scoreless innings, but he did walk one and hit one. Gil homered and had two more hits, and he was a triple shy of the cycle. Barfield also homered.
It has been a long and painful second half for Cougar fans, as the team is 20-22 and not anywhere close to looking like they are going to go far into the playoffs.
Matt Ray and Juan Nunez, both on the DL, took batting practice and should be ready soon.
The Cougars continue their homestand with one more game against the Clinton Lumberkings (Seattle) on Monday. Then the Quad City River Bandits (St. Louis) come to town for four games through Friday. After that, it's back on the road for eight games in nine days. They spend four days in Burlington (Kansas City) and, after a day off, four in Beloit (Minnesota).
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. Or follow my blog http://davidmalamut.blogspot.com.
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