Kane County Notebook: Rough Sledding

The road was unkind to the Kane County Cougars last week, as they managed only one win on the trip. David Malamut reviews the week that was.

The Kane County Cougars had a miserable week, as they went 1-6. The entire time they were on the road. They played some great teams. Beloit was in first and Clinton was not far behind them.

One major problem for the team is that they have been hitting .158 (32-202) during that stretch. Tyreace House (0-12) and Juan Nunez (0-10) didn't have any hits during the week and Max Stassi went 1-16 (0.062). The only average above .238 (Leonardo Gil) last week belonged to Myrio Richard who hit 6-17 (.352).

During that time the Cougars have been outscored 12-26. The sad thing is except for one game, the pitching has been pretty good. Yes, they have had an inning or two here or there, but overall they have been pretty good.

They started out the week with a double-header in Beloit, Wisconsin, on Tuesday. They had the day off on Monday; the double header was because of a rain out in Beloit the week before.

In game one, the Cougars would lose 7-0, getting three-hit by the Snappers' Miguel Munoz. Richard had a bunt single and a walk and Conner Crumbliss had a hit and a walk. Crumbliss also was caught stealing once and hit into a double play. Not much went right for the Cougars. They only stranded one runner on base because they hit into three double plays, were picked off once and caught stealing once.

Justin Marks got through five innings. He had one bad inning really. Yes, the boxscore says he gave up seven runs on seven hits, but only three of those runs were earned. He hit two batters and threw a wild pitch. In the one inning, he would give up five hits and give up five runs. An error by Michael Gilmartin and a wild pitch wouldn't help. Besides that, Marks gave up a two-run homer to Mike Gonzales in the second. The two hit batters really were nothing, as he picked one off of first and stranded the other. Ryan Quigley came in an pitched a perfect inning in relief.

In game two of the double header, it would be the Cougars only win of the week, as they won, 3-2, with a run in the ninth. All of the runs the Cougars scored were Beloit mistakes as one scored on an error, one on a wild pitch, and one other the runner moved up two bases on a wild pitch. Nino Leyja singled home Stassi in the ninth to win the game. Stassi had walked and moved up two bases on a wild pitch. Richard had two hits.

Kyle Christensen started for the Cougars and lasted four innings. He only gave up two hits and one run and he had two innings were he had runners and two good innings without runners. Connor Hoehn pitched two innings and didn't look good. He walked three, gave up two hits and one run. Jose Guzman would pitch three good innings, giving up one hit and collecting four strike-outs.

Two bad innings by the Cougars led to the 4-2 loss in game three of the week. The Cougars had three straight doubles in the fifth to score their only runs. Besides that they had their chances, as they went 0-5 with runners in scoring position outside of the fifth inning. In all they would strand seven runners on-base. The pitching was ok. Robert Gilliam started and went five innings, giving up six hits and four runs. He walked three, threw two wild pitches and balked. His last two innings were the ones that he gave up the runs in, two in the fourth and two in the fifth. In the fifth, with one out, the runs would score on a wild pitch. Bo Schultz pitched very well in three innings of relief, as he gave up one hit and one walk while striking out three.

In the last game in Beloit, the Cougars would lose 3-2 in a pitchers' duel. Ian Krol pitched a great game. He went seven innings, giving up three hits and two unearned runs. He had seven strike outs and was perfect through five innings. The sixth inning is when the defense fell apart after an error would lead to a two-run single.

The only runs the Cougars would score came in the ninth, so they came back fighting, at least. Anthony Aliotti singled home Gilmartin. Aliotti would then score on an error by the shortstop. The problem is with runners on first and third and one out in the inning, Rashun Dixon and Franklin Hernandez would both strike out, which ended the game.

Moving along to Clinton, Iowa, the Cougars would lose the first game of the series, 4-1. The only run came on a Leonardo Gil homer in the fourth inning. The Cougars would strand six runners. They had five hits and four walks and they would not get a hit in the final four innings, drawing only two walks.

Jonathan Joseph started and last four innings. He gave up three hits and two runs. He walked two and struck out two. Joseph also gave up a homer, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch. Even with all of that his outing wasn't that bad. He made one real mistake, a two-run homer by Wellington Dotel in the fourth. Besides that he had one bad inning, which would be the second. He would get out of a bases-loaded, two-out problem with a double play. A.J. Huttenlocker gave up a run in the fifth. Max Peterson gave up a run in two and two thirds innings of work. He also struck out four in a row before giving up a walk. Josh Lansford came in after Peterson and had a lot of trouble. He would throw two wild pitches, one that would give up an inherited run for Peterson.

Clinton would win the game on Saturday, 5-1. Again the Cougars would have two bad innings and lose. The would only get three hits and one run in the game. The one run was a Crumbliss run-scoring single in the fifth to score Stassi. They could have scored again in the inning, but they tried a double steal and Tyreace House would be out at the plate.

Daniel Straily started and lasted five innings, giving up three hits and one run. He walked two and struck out eight. He had runners on early and then settled down. The only run he gave up was a leadoff homer by Kalian Sams in the second. Straily retired the final eight he faced. Hoehn struggled again, as he went two innings and gave up one hit but two runs. He struggled with walks again, this time walking three, while striking out four. He also threw two wild pitches and took the loss. Schultz wasn't much better in an inning of work. He gave up three hits and one earned run. He would balk in a run, then give up a run scoring single. Schultz would strike out the last two he faced.

The game on Sunday was more of the same, but this time it was really one bad inning for the Cougars as they gave up the lead while giving up three runs in the eighth and lost, 4-3. The runs the Cougars scored came in the sixth, seventh and ninth. The one in the seventh was via a wild pitch. The one in the ninth was after they had given up the lead the half inning before.

The Cougars should have won the game, plain and simple. Justin Marks started and put them in position to win the game. He went six innings, giving up seven hits and no runs. He had runners on but the LumberKings would strand six runners while he was on the mound. After he left, chaos erupted. Christensen gave up two runs in an inning and two third and Guzman came in with two-outs in the eighth, with runners on first and second. He gave up a triple down the left field line that gave the LumberKings the lead. Then he gave up another single to the next hitter that stretched the lead to two runs. Kane County would score one in the ninth but fell short.

Roster Moves

The Cougars made some roster moves this week. Rashun Dixon (wrist) was activated from the disabled list. Hector Garcia was placed on the disabled list with an abdominial strain on Wednesday. On Thursday, A.J. Huttenlocker was activated from the disabled list. He went on April 30th with left shoulder sorness. Ryan Quigley was sent to extended spring training. On Saturday, Anvioris Ramirz was sent to the Cougars from Stockton, as the Cougars were playing with one man down most of the week.

Ramirez will move into the rotation, starting on Monday. Kyle Christensen will move into the bullpen. Max Stassi isn't playing every day because he has a hip flexor "issue." It as far as I know is a maintenance thing more than anything.

Coming Up Next

Next week the Cougars finally come home, after one more game in Clinton, Iowa, on Monday. On Tuesday, they start a three game series against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Milwaukee Brewers). After that the Clinton Lumber Kings (Seattle Mariners) come to town for a four-game series. Then the Cougars go on the road to the eastern division for six games.

The Cougars are 20-24, 6.5 games behind the Cedar Rapids Kernels for the division and are five games behind the Beloit Snappers for the wild card spot in the first half.

About the Author

David Malamut has been covering the Cougars since 1998, with his own website, (http://malamut.net). He has also written 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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