Cougars take opener 4-3

Mark Zagunis slugged a two-run homer and Shawon Dunston had three hits and a RBI to lead Kane County to a 4-3 win over Lake County in the opening game of the MWL championship series on Wednesday night.

If you missed the first two innings of Game 1, you missed all the scoring.

With Cougar ace Jen-Ho Tseng on the mound, Lake County drew first blood with back-to-back doubles by Bradley Zimmer and Nellie Rodriguez in the first. Kane County didn’t waste anytime regaining the lead with a infield single by Shawon Dunston and a two-run homer to the opposite field from right-hander Mark Zagunis.

The Captains answered right back in the second, loading the bases on two singles sandwiched between an error by Carlos Penalver on a throw to second. Claudio Bautista’s double put Lake County back on top 3-2.

The Cougars took advantage of three costly Captains errors in the bottom of the second. They tied the game when Trey Martin walked, stole second, took third on an errant pickoff throw and scored on Dunston’s RBI single. An error by pitcher Mitch Brown and walk to Yasiel Balaguert loaded the bases, and a throwing error by third baseman Paul Hendrix put Kane County ahead 4-3. Not the type of start you would expect from the championship series.

That’s when the scoring binge ended as neither team touched home the rest of the night.

Tseng finally settled down and matched his career-high with eight strikeouts in five innings. He allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits and walk. Ben Wells made his first relief appearance for the Cougars as well as his first playoff appearance, working a 1-2-3 sixth. The right-hander worked around a single in the seventh and finished his night with a line of 2 IP, 1H, 0R, 0 BB, 1K.

Kane County’s Jasvir Rakkar fanned a pair in a scoreless 8th and Francisco Carrillo worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his third save of the playoffs.

Each team finished with seven hits, three coming off the bat of Dunston, who stole two bases and scored twice. Jeimer Candelario added two hits for the Cougars and the Captains' Bradley Zimmer was 2-for-2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch.

Kane County will be looking to take a 2-0 lead on Thursday as they send right-hander Duane Underwood (6-4, 2.50 ERA) to the mound and Lake County will counter with Jordan Milbrath (3-12, 3.95 ERA). The Cougars offense should hve their opportunities against Milbrath as he allowed 21 runs over his final 28 innings of the regular season. Game starts at 6 p.m. and it will be the final home game for Kane County.

MWL Championship Game 1 Box Score

Cubs Notes: The Dominican Winter League held its annual draft on Wednesday night and two members of Kane County’s 2014 starting rotation were selected. In the 6th round, Aguilas Cibaenas selected Daury Torrez (Kane County) and in round 7, Estrellas de Orlente took Juan Paniagua, who pitched for Kane County and Daytona.

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