Vitters' homerun put the Cougars in the lead.
GENEVA, IL -- The Kane County Cougars did something Sunday night they haven’t done often this year, come from behind to earn a victory. Trailing 7-0 entering the bottom portion of the fourth inning, the Cougars’ bats came alive as they tallied a morale boosting three runs in the inning en route to defeating the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 11-8 at Elfstrom Stadium.
Kane County Cougars’ manager Aaron Nieckula has often been outspoken about the team’s lack of ability to score runs when they were behind.
“There’s just something not clicking and we can’t seem to come all the way back to get teams,” Nieckula had said earlier during a tough series against the Peoria Chiefs.
Last night was different as they early deficit didn’t discourage the team. After Cougars’ starting pitcher James Heuser gave up three runs in the top of the second – two of which were on back-to-back solo home runs by 2B Trevor Lawhorn (3) and DH Carlos Peguero (8) – he continued to struggle giving up a two-run homer to 1B Reed Eastley en route to a two-run inning for the Timber Rattlers.
After adding another two runs in the top of the fourth, the Timber Rattlers held a seemingly insurmountable 7-0 lead. However, the Cougars began battling back. DH Haas Pratt began the bottom of the fourth with a single to the outfield. C Matt Smith followed up Pratt by hitting a double (2) that advanced Pratt to third. With one out, 3B Christian Vitters hit a double (7) into right field that scored both Pratt and Smith. A Toddric Johnson two-out single scored Vitters to produce the final tally in the inning.
Neither team would score runs in the next three innings as Heuser settled down to breeze through the fifth inning and Timber Rattlers relief pitcher Brian Kappel shutdown the Cougars’ offense.
In the bottom of the seventh, trailing 8-3 now after a Timber Rattler run in the top half of the inning, the Cougars erupted to score six runs. As most run producing innings do, this rally started with a leadoff walk to Johnson. After CF Mike Massaro was thrown out at first on a bunt attempt, 2B Mike Affronti singled to advance Johnson to third. 1B Sean Doolittle grounded into a force out at second but beat out the throw to plate Affronti and avoid the double play.
With two outs, the Cougars’ would get singles from Pratt, Smith, Mitchell and a humungous three-run home run by Vitters to give the Cougars a 9-8 lead.
The Timber Rattlers never struck back and the Cougars pounced again in the eighth inning producing two more insurance runs and giving them a final margin of victory of three.
Eric Sheridan (1-0), who pitched 2.2 innings of relief work for the Cougars, earned the victory in the game after yielding five hits and giving up zero runs.
Rollie Gibson (1-3), who was the pitcher responsible for the six runs scored in the bottom of the seventh, shouldered the loss for the Timber Rattlers.
3B Alex Liddi, OF Calvin Beamon and Eastley all had multi-hit games for the Timber Rattlers. Pratt led the way with four hits for the Cougars while Matt Smith, Affronti, Vitters and Johnson also had multi-hit games for the team.