Haas Pratt had a huge game for the Cougars.
GENEVA, IL -- The Kane County Cougars haven't had much to smile about this season, but they were happy on Monday, as they cruised to an easy victory. Our Kane County Correspondent Matt Bailey has the details.
Kane County Cougars’ 1B Greg Dowling got the best of former Georgia Southern teammate and Burlington Bee’s hurler Everett Teaford (3-7 5.54 ERA) Monday night going 3-for-5 on the day with a home run, his sixth on the year. Dowling, who had two RBI’s on the day, helped get the Cougars back on the right track in the second half as their 11-2 victory improved their record to 2-3 while dropping the Bee’s to 3-2.
“Me and Teaford are pretty close because we’ve played together for three years and last summer so we’ll probably chat about this later on the phone,” Dowling said.
“I know what he’s going to throw and today he made a couple of mistakes and I made him pay for them. It was nice to finally get some hits off him because heading into the game I was 0-for-3 lifetime against him.”
To go along with Dowling’s superb game, Cougars’ starting pitcher Scott Deal (4-5, 4.13 ERA) had arguably his best performance on the year pitching the team’s first complete game of the season in only 100 pitches. The most batters Deal faced in an inning was six as he went all nine innings scattering nine hits while giving up one earned run and fanning two.
“I felt great right from the start and felt really good the whole game,” Deal said about his performance on the hill.
“Those three days off helped quite a bit and each inning I went out I felt really strong.”
While Deal made his second half debut, the Cougars’ welcomed the first player from the recent 2007 MLB draft to be placed on their roster in catcher Matt Smith. Smith, who hadn’t played organized baseball in nearly a month due to contract negotiations, started off his professional career with a single to the outfield.
“It’s great to get that first hit out of the way,” Smith said.
“It’s been awhile since I’ve seen live pitching so they’re (Cougars) helping me with getting back in the groove of things. I’ve been swinging over the break so now I just have to get back accustom to getting behind the plate.”
Because of former catcher Jake Smith’s injury, the team was in need of a catcher right away to split games with C Gustavo Rosendo and Matt Smith received the call-up after he signed with Oakland A’s scout Blake Davis.
The Bee’s struck first in the top of the second inning as DH Brady Everett lead off with a single up the middle. After a past ball moved Everett to second, 3B Michael Thompson laced a single to the outfield to plate Everett and give the team a 1-0 lead.
The Cougars responded back in the bottom frame as LF Jermaine Mitchell, who beat out a ground ball to the shortstop to lead off the inning, came home after two successive hits from Smith and 2B Sammy Hernandez to knot the score at 1-1.
In the bottom of the third, the Cougars began their onslaught scoring three runs of three consecutive hits from CF Mike Masarro, SS Mike Affronti and Dowling and timely sacrifices from RF Ramiro Mendez and DH Haas Pratt.
With the score 4-1 in favor of the Cougars heading into the bottom of the fifth, the team exploded, tying a season-record by scoring six runs in the fifth inning. The team also shattered their previous season-high by hitting three home runs in the inning. While Dowling hit his aforementioned sixth of the year, Pratt hit his fifth two batters later and Valdez also hit his fifth four batters after Pratt.
The fifth inning was also the end of Teaford, who hurled 4.2 innings of 11-hit ball while giving up eight earned runs.
The Cougars never looked back and even added to their large lead as Pratt went yard again in the bottom of the sixth for his sixth home run on the year. With two home runs in the game, Pratt set a team season-high for home runs in a game.
The team also broke season-highs for hits with 16, and most home runs in a game, with four.
Pratt wound up with four RBIs on the day while Valdez and Hernandez also had two. Mitchell had three infield singles on the day to go with two singles. Hernandez and Dowling also had three hits on the day as Masarro and Pratt wound up with two.
Everett and 1B Jase Turner accounted for five of the Bee’s nine hits on the day.
The team’s return to action today for the second game in their four-game series. Andrew Bailey (1-4 4.03 ERA) will take the mound for the Cougars while Mario Santiago (1-5 2.76 ERA) will take the hill for the Bees. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. CST.