Kane County Notebook: The Week Of April 19

The Kane County Cougars have been playing well of late, but last week was a struggle for the Geneva Nine. David Malamut reviews the week of April 19...

Note: this article covers the week of April 19

The Cougars had a rough week last week, as they only won two of their seven games, and ended the week with an overall record of 8-10. They would be swept by Peoria in a three-game series and they also lost the final game of the Cedar Rapids series to combine for a four-game losing streak. Kane County did win two of the three games against the Clinton Lumber Kings to end the week on a positive note.

Chris Mederos has been pitching well this year, he has just had a bit of tough luck. The pitching as a whole has been pretty good. They have had some tough luck, but most nights the pitching has been there. The big problem is errors and mental mistakes for the Cougars. The team has made 26 errors in 18 games. Leonardo Gil leads the team with five, followed by Michael Gilmartin with three.

Another thing that has been of note is that the Cougars have 18 wild pitches. Rob Gilliam, Jonathan Joseph and Daniel Straily all have three. The catching also hasn't been there in terms of throwing out base-runners as the Cougars are 5-for-35 as a team, and starting catcher Max Stassi is 2-for-22 or .091 with two passed balls already.

The first game of the week was on Monday in the series finale against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. The Cougars would lose the game and the series. In the game they would lose, 6-3, despite scoring three times in the sixth to take the lead. A sacrifice fly by Chris Affinito and a two-run double by Franklin Hernandez were all the Cougars could muster. Two errors on Hernandez at first were part of the first two runs that the Kernels would score. This game went into extra-innings, and the Kernels would score three times in the 10th off of Jose Guzman to win the game. He would give up a bases-loaded triple. Gilliam pitched well. He went six innings giving up three hits and two unearned runs. A.J. Huttenlocker pitched two scoreless innings, getting three strikeouts. Gil, Rashun Dixon and Myrio Richard all had two hits. Richard had two doubles and a walk, along with a stolen base.

It was a really wild game on Tuesday in the first game of the three game series with the Peoria Chiefs (Chicago Cubs). The Chiefs would win the game 8-7 in 11 innings. In all there would be 15 runs, 24 hits and seven errors in the game, six on the Cougars. The Cougars took 10 walks and struck out 14 times. Juan Nunez had two hits, a walk and a run-scoring fielder's choice. Conner Crumbliss also had three hits, including a two-run single in the fourth inning. In all he would drive in three runs, and get on-base five times with three hits and two walks. Straily had a really rough outing. He lasted into the fifth inning, giving up seven hits and six runs. Four of those runs were earned, and he also walked three and struck out four. This game was a mess on defense for the Cougars. Three of the runs scored via errors. Hector Garcia pitched well in three innings of work, as he gave up two hits. He also was able to get around a bunt single and an error on him on the throw to first on the first batter he faced. In all, Garcia made two throwing errors, but neither scored.

No errors for the Cougars in the second game of the series, but wild pitches and a hit batter were a problem. The Cougars would lose, 4-2. The Chiefs just out-played the Cougars in this game, as their starter Ken McNutt shut down the Cougars for five innings. Crumbliss had two walks, Kent Walton had two hits and a hit by pitch. Dixon had two hits, including his first homerun of the season. Mederos started and did not pitch badly. He went into the sixth inning, giving up six hits and two runs. The runs he gave up came in the sixth inning. Connor Hoehn got out of the sixth inning with two called strike outs. He then gave up two runs in the next inning, after a hit batter and a walk.

The last game of the series was a heart-breaker as the Cougars would lose 6-4, but made a game out of it in the ninth inning with three runs. In the ninth, Nino Leyja grounded home Stassi, and Crumbliss had a two-run single up the middle. Justin Marks got hit around again. He went four innings, giving up six hits and five runs. He had two very good innings and two bad innings. The best part of his outing was in the first bad inning when he got out of it with an inning-ending double play. Ryan Quigley pitched the final two innings and gave up one hit and struck out three. All three of his contact outs were ground outs to the right side of the infield.

Next up came a series in Clinton, Iowa, against the LumberKings (Seattle Mariners). In the opener the Cougars would win, 5-4, after trailing most of the game. They scored three runs in the ninth to win. Walton had three hits, including two doubles, and a run scoring hit by pitch. Gil also had three hits and a walk and Hernandez had two hits and a walk. In the ninth inning, Gil singled home both Walton and Dixon to tie the game. Hernandez then singled home pitch runner Leyja to win the game. Ian Krol pitched well. He went into the sixth inning, giving up four hits and three runs. Only one of the runs was earned. He also walked one and struck out five. Krol also balked twice. In all the Cougars would be charged with three balks in the game. They also had a wild pitch and two hit batters. One of the hit batters would be with the bases-loaded. Bo Schultz and Jose Guzman both pitched shutout innings, with one strikeout apiece.

It rained and rained and rained on Saturday, so the Cougars only got in three innings of their game. This resulted in a doubleheader on Sunday in Clinton. In game one, the Cougars would lose 3-1. The game was tied at one until the eighth inning, when an error by Huttenlocker moved along a runner. The LumberKings followed that up with a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring single. Gilliam had his best outing of the year, as he went three innings, giving up only one hit and striking out three. Hoehn then came in and pitched two and two thirds innings, giving up two hits and one run. The one run was a homer in the sixth. He struck out five and walked one. Gilmartin drove home Juan Nunez in the fourth for the Cougars only run. Tyreace House and Gilmartin both had two hits.

Game two of the double header the Cougars would win 6-3 to take the series. The Cougars got two runs in the first, fifth and seventh innings, and had 10 hits. Crumbliss had two walks, and scored a run. Anthony Aliotti had three hits and drove in two runs. Gil also had three hits, along with his first homerun of the season. He also had two doubles and in all drove home three of the Cougars runs. Straily pitched well. He went five innings, giving up two hits and one run. He walked three and struck out eight. The one run against him was a lead-off walk that would score on a sacrifice fly in the third. Quigley had a rough outing. He went one inning, giving up three hits and two runs. A double and a triple, followed by a single. He would get out of the inning with a double play. Guzman pitched an inning for the save. He would get around two hits, and a wild pitch.

Team Status Report

As of Sunday, the Cougars were 8-10 and in a tie for fourth in their division, six games out of first. Crumbliss led the league in walks with 23. The Cougars have 105 walks on the season, 14 more than Quad Cities. On the other side, Stassi is second in the league in strike outs with 25. The Cougars are third in the league with 168.

"We battled at every game. A few of the fundamental things we could've done better," Kane County hitting coach Haas Pratt said of the week that was. "The game in Clinton, we battled. Leonardo Gil had the at-bat of the year. We have had a hard consistent approach at the plate."

About the Author David Malamut has been covering the Cougars since 1998, with his own website, (http://malamut.net). He has also wrtiten a book about the Cougars, "Baseball In Kane County Cougars" (Arcadia/2005). For daily updates on the Cougars, go to his website (http://malamut.net) or follow him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/davidmalamut) for in game news and notes.

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