Kane County Notebook: Back On Winning Track

After a brief slump, the Kane County Cougars back to playing playoff-level baseball only a week before the start of the post-season. David Malamut has a report on the Cougars' week.

The Kane County Cougars had a great week, as they would go 6-1 in the first seven games of their current homestand.

On Monday they faced the Beloit Snappers at home, and they would win 4-3 in 10 innings. Leonardo Gil and Dusty Napoleon each had two hits and a double. The Cougars went 1-12 with runners in scoring position, though, and left 15 men on-base.

Tuesday the Cougars would again beat the Snappers, this time 6-4. Shawn Haviland pitched ok getting into the sixth. He would again have one bad inning. The bullpen of Trey Barham, Paul Smyth and Daniel Thomas pitched 3.2 innings of shutout ball. Stephen Parker drove in both Tyler Ladendorf and Conner Crumbliss in the third. Parker also drove in Gil in the fifth. In the sixth, Franklin Hernandez would score on an error and Jeremy Barfiled scored on a wild pitch. Crumbliss would also drive in Petey Paramore.

Wednesday gave the Cougars their first shutout in awhile, as they would beat the Snappers 7-0. Murphy Smith pitched very well in five innings. He would give up one hit and two walks. Reliever Jose Guzman struck out seven in three innings. Michael Spina drove home Gil in the first. Hernandez drove home Gil in the third, and Spina again drove home Gil in the fifth. Ladendorf scored Parker and Berroa drove home both Barfield and Ladendorf, all in the fifth. Barfield would single home Parker in the sixth to finish off the scoring.

The game on Thursday was a nightmare, as the Cougars showed little life in a 9-1 loss to Beloit. Kenneth Smalley got shelled in four innings of work. He would give up 11 hits and five earned runs. Josue Selenes wasn't much better in 1.2 innings. He gave up seven hits and two earned runs. A.J. Huttenlocker pitched 2.1 innings of perfect ball before catcher Dusty Napoleon pitched the ninth. Napoleon's appearance was among one of the only highlights of the game. He struck out Nate Hanson to end the ninth on an eephus pitch looking. The Cougars only run of the game came in the eighth when Crumbliss would score on an error.

On Friday the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers came to the Elf for a four game series. In the opener, the Cougars would win 4-3 in 10 innings. Anvioris Ramirez lasted into the fifth inning and was shaky at best. He gave up six hits and three runs. Ramirez walked three, two of which came to the first two batters of the game. Barham, Justin Murray and Smyth then came in and pitched shutout ball the rest of the way. With the bases loaded, the Rattlers would hit Spina with a pitch to score the first run of the game. Hernandez then singled to short to drive in the second. Gil would score on an error on the throw on Hernandez's single. The winning run came in 10th on a weird play. The bases were loaded after the Rattlers intentionally walked Spina. Hernandez hit a little pop up to short right, and the umps called the infield fly rule. However, the right-fielder dropped the ball, and after he kicked it, Nino Leyja scampered home to win the game for Kane County.

Matheiu Leblanc-Poirier pitched very well on Saturday to get his fourth win. He pitched six innings, giving up one hit and one unearned run. He walked two and struck out five. Crumbliss would score in the first on a wild pitch. Paramore doubled home Barfiled in the fourth. Then, with the bases loaded in the seventh, Barfield would walk to score Crumbliss. In the eighth, Gil singled home Leyja and Parker hit a sacrifice fly to score Crumbliss.

On Sunday it would be another one of those games for the Cougars, as they would win in some weird way. Shawn Haviland had another so-so start, as he lasted six innings, but gave up eight hits and four runs. Parker hit a sacrifice fly in the first to score Crumbliss. In the ninth inning, the Cougars would score four runs to tie the game. Ladendorf walked with the bases loaded to score Hernandez and then Barfield scored on a sacrifice fly by Napoleon before Paramore scored on an error by the third baseman. Parker would hit a sacrifice fly to score Ladendorf to tie the game. Onto the 10th inning again. After a Barfield double and a Paramore sacrifice, the Rattlers intentionally walked both Ladendorf and Napoleon to load the bases. They would then bring in a new pitcher to pitch to Crumbliss and Crumbliss was promptly hit by the pitch to bring in Barfield and win the game.

Roster Moves

This week the Cougars got Conner Crumbliss from Vancouver. He is batting .250 with six runs scored and seven walks in only seven games with the Cougars so far. Reliever Paul Smyth was also promoted from Vancouver. He has tossed three scoreless innings in his first week with the Cougars. Smyth has a streak of 32.1 scoreless innings going for the season between Vancouver and Kane County

Reliever Matt Fitts and infielder Carlos Arrieche were placed on the disabled list.

Playoff Scenario

As it stands right now the Cougars would face the Burlington Bees in the first round of the playoffs. The Bees have a three game lead in the wild card race with six games to go. The first game would be in Burlington on the 9th of September.

Upcoming Schedule

This week the Cougars finish the series against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Milwaukee) on Monday. They have Tuesday off and then play the Peoria Chiefs from Wednesday through Friday in Peoria. After that, they finish up the regular season at home against the Quad City River Bandits (St. Louis) Saturday through Monday.

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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