Kane County Notebook: Pushing For Post-Season

The Kane County Cougars missed out on securing a playoff spot during the first half of the season, but they are in good position for a post-season run during the second half. David Malamut reviews the past week of Cougars' baseball inside...

This was an up and down week, as the Cougars would go 4-3 with two of those losses coming on the road. The Cougars ended the month of July with a 13-3 home record and remain in a great spot in the division. They would win the second half if the playoffs started today.

The hitters are really doing well as many of them are hitting way above where they were in the first half. Michael Gilmartin, Anthony Aliotti, Tyreace House, Myrio Richard and Conner Crumbliss are all hitting the ball really well.

They had a little slump last week and into the beginning of this week when they were on a nine-game road trip. They lost six of the nine games and were swept by Lansing. The Cougars were outscored 44-31, but in their three wins they scored seven runs twice and six runs the other time. Coming home sure did help end that slump. The Cougars would take the first two games from the Burlington Bees to get back on-track.

Last Sunday the Cougars finished out their series in Great Lakes against the Loons with a 5-0 loss. They came up against a good pitcher in Brett Wallach who shut them out for six innings on four hits. That is not to say the Cougars did not have their chances in the game, as they left seven men on base, all in the first five innings. Justin Marks had one bad inning, and that's all it took this time for him to get his 12th loss of the season. He made one bad pitch in the second inning to Brian Cavazos-Galvez that went for a two-run homer. Then in the seventh he gave up three runs on four hits before coming out of the game. Besides those two innings he gave up one hit and struck out two. In the other five innings he got 10 ground ball out compared to one fly ball out.

After an off day, the Cougars would head over to visit the Quad Cities River Bandits on Tuesday to continue their road trip with three more games. In the opener the Cougars would lose 8-1. They only got four hits and one run, and that one run was on an errant pick off throw. Joe Kelley of the Bandits struck out 10 Cougars, eight in the first three innings. Chris Mederos didn't fare to well as the Cougars starter. He would get into the fourth inning and give up three runs on four hits, all of which occurred in the fourth inning. Before that inning the only thing that Mederos gave up was a hit by pitch. In the fourth, four out of the first five hitters singled and three runs would cross the plate. Kenneth Smalley didn't fare much better as he went two innings and gave up five runs on two hits. He walked three and all three would score. His trouble was the sixth inning, besides that he pitched well in one and two thirds innings.

The next two games in the Quad Cities were much better as the Cougars would win to take the series. In the first game, the Cougars would score seven times on nine hits to beat the Bandits, 7-4. Crumbliss had two doubles and two walks and he scored three runs. Rashun Dixon scored twice and reached base three times. Daniel Straily got the win with five good innings. He struck-out seven. Ryan Doolittle, Bo Schultz and Jose Guzman would combine in relief to close otu the game. Guzman earned his 14th save.

In the second game they would win 6-3, and do all of their damage in the first three innings. Gilmartin doubled home both House and Max Stassi in the first. In the second a House hit scored Richard, Jose Crisotomo scored on a passed ball and Aliotti scored House. In the third, Richard singled home Dixon. After that the Cougars would leave six men on base. Ian Krol had another great outing as he went five innings, giving up one hit and walking one. He struck out six, with four coming in the second. Max Peterson gave up a run in the sixth and Connor Hoehn gave up two in the ninth. A.J. Huttenlocker pitched two shutout innings.

The Burlington series would start on Saturday and start off great. The Cougars won the first game, 4-2, with good pitching from Murphy Smith, Josh Lansford and Doolittle. Lansford and Doolittle would be perfect in the final three innings. The offense came up against a pitcher they had seen before in Elisaul Pimentel. He was just traded from the LA Dodgers and he was assigned to Burlington (Kansas City). The Cougars had just seen Pimenetel a week ago in Great Lakes. A wild pitch would score Richard in the second, followed by Crisotomo singling home Richard. A suicide squeeze in the seventh by Gilmartin scored Aliotti, and a single by Dixon scored Stassi. The Cougars would walk six times in the game, and only one of those would score.

The final game of the week went great from a Cougars perspective, as they would win 13-3. Jonathan Joseph, just back from Vancouver, had his best outing of the year for the Cougars. He would go six innings, giving up seven hits and three runs. He walked two and struck out eight. Schultz and Smalley came in and had scoreless outings. The big bat was Jason Christian who had four hits and drove in four runs. Gilmartin, Dixon, Crisotomo and Chris Affinito each had two hits.

Roster Report

The Cougars made a couple of roster moves this week, as Justin Marks was sent to Stockton, and Joseph came up from Vancouver. Joseph was the Cougars Opening Day starter. Richard was placed on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle and Mitchell LeVier came up from Vancouver to take Richard's place. LeVier came back from Tommy John surgery last year after a blow out game stint as a pitcher with the Cougars.

Upcoming Games

Next week the Cougars finish their series against the Burlington Bees (Kansas City Royals) on Monday. After that the face the Cedar Rapids Kernels (LA Angles) for four games at home. Then next Saturday they get to go and visit the Burlington Bees for three games.

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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