The Week In Review (May 19-25)
The week started out pretty well for Kane County, as the Cougars would win on Monday in Burlington, 7-3. The game was called in the top of the ninth due to rain. Craig Italiano continued his mastery of the league with five innings pitched, allowing one unearned run. Jonathan Johnston had three hits and Toddric Johnson had two hits and two runs batted in.
Tuesday would be a long day for the Cougars, as they played a doubleheader in Burlington. In game one, the Cougars would lose by a score of 4-2. Jamie Richmond was solid except for two bad innings in his complete game (seven innings) outing. He gave up four runs on six hits, plus he made an error. Jonathan Johnston hit his first professional home run in the game. They would lose game two of the doubleheader 5-3. This was the first time in five doubleheaders this year that the Cougars were swept. Mike Lissman hit a homer in the defeat, and Lissman and Carlos Arrieche both had two hits.
On Wednesday, the Cougars would get all of two hits in their 4-0 loss to Burlington. Scott Moore went five innings, giving up seven hits and four runs. Chad Kerfoot and Lance Sewell both pitched well in relief.
Thursday saw Scott Hodsdon pitch well and beat the Burlington Bees by a score of 4-2. Nick Walters got the save. Lissman had three hits and Johnston had two. Larry Cobb drove in three runs with a double and a sacrifice fly.
On Friday, the Cougars came home after a long road trip to play a doubleheader against the Quad City River Bandits. In game one, the Cougars would win by a score of 4-3. Scott Mitchinson started and went five innings and Leonardo Espinal then came in for two innings. All three runs by the Bandits were unearned, as it wasn’t a good game defensively for Kane County. Corey Brown, Larry Cobb, Matt Ray and Mike Lissman all made errors. Shane Keough and Jonathan Johnston both had two hits, while Jake Smith had three hits. In game two, Scott Deal made a spot start and lasted four innings. The Cougars would lose 6-2, after giving up four runs in the fifth inning. Larry Cobb had three hits and Shane Keough had two.
On Saturday, the Cougars’ offense got seven hits, but the hitters were 0-6 with runners in scoring position and would lose to Quad City by a score of 4-0. The umps didn’t help the matters much as they blew one call. Aaron Nieckula was ejected in the sixth inning, his eighth ejection of his career, tying Dave Joppie for the most ejections all time by a Cougars’ manager. Craig Italiano kept on throwing up zeros on the scoreboard for the Cougars, as he went five innings and gave up three hits and three walks. He struck out six, and threw 71 pitches. Keough, Brown and Cobb all had two hits each.
The Cougars finished the week on a high note by beating Quad City 4-1. Jamie Richmond got the no-decision, but he pitched six strong innings, allowing one run on four hits and striking out six. Chad Kerfoot earned the win in relief with two scoreless innings and Justin Friend earned his fourth save. Adam Klein, Corey Brown and Larry Cobb each had two hits, while Danny Hamblin had three walks in his season-debut for Kane County as the Cougars’ third baseman.
Through Sunday, the Cougars are 6.5 games behind Clinton at 30-20, .600 winning percentage. Clinton is 35-12 with a .745 winning percentage. More importantly, the Cougars are 2.5 games ahead of Beloit for the second spot in the playoffs and 3.5 ahead of Quad City. The batting average for the team is .257, which is fifth-best in the league. The Cougars are still leading the league in pitching with a 2.59 ERA.
There were a number of roster changes this week. On Monday, Brent Lysander came to the Cougars after Travis Banwart went to Stockton on Sunday. On Tuesday, Dusty Napoleon arrived when Matt Smith landed on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury. Friday, Adam Klein came off the disabled list, and Toddric Johnson went on after he hurt his right shoulder after sliding into second base on Thursday.
The biggest shakeup came on Sunday. Scott Moore was promoted to Midland, after two-plus years in Geneva. Walter Correa and Jake Smith were sent to extended spring training, while Justin Frash, Danny Hamblin and Ryne Tacker came to the Cougars from extended. Tacker started Monday.
Craig Italiano is just sick, that is all that can be said about his performances this year. He has not given up an earned run in a month. This week, he pitched twice, five innings in each outing. He still has gone six innings only once this year, as the team is keeping him on a tight inning limit. In those ten innings this week, he gave up eight hits and one unearned run. He walked eight and struck out 11. He is now 6-0 with a 0.71 era in 10 starts. He has pitched 50 innings, walking 23 and striking out 63.
Scott Hodsdon has really turned things around after a very rough start to the season. This week, he went seven innings on Thursday, giving up six hits and two runs. He walked one and struck out six to pick up his second win of the season. He hasn’t lost this month after going 0-4 in April.
Jamie Richmond has been great this season. This week, he pitched twice, both times going six innings. On Tuesday, he gave up six hits and four runs in a loss. Errors by him and the defense behind him didn't help much. On Sunday, he went six, giving up four hits and one run. He walked two and struck out six. He threw 87 pitches, 56 strikes, in the no-decision.
Reliever Lance Sewell really pitched well in two outings this week out of the bullpen. He went 1.1 innings, giving up a walk, while striking out two. Those two outings were on back-to-back days.
Reliever Chad Kerfoot also has pitched well this week. He pitched twice and went a combined four innings, giving up four hits, one walk and two strike-outs. He got his first Cougar win on Sunday.
Closer Justin Friend struggled on Friday in an inning of work, giving up two hits and two runs, plus two walks. On Sunday, he picked up the save with an inning of work with two strike-outs.
Scott Mitchinson pitched on Friday, and went five innings, giving up six hits and three unearned runs. He struck out four in a no-decision. He hasn’t giving up an earned run in two starts.
At the plate, catcher Jonathan Johnston had a good week. He went nine-for-30 and he seemed to always do something good in every game. On Tuesday, he hit his first homer. For the week, he walked five times, and scored seven runs. On Thursday. he stole three bases and was picked off once.
Towards the end of the week, infielder Larry Cobb was smoking hot. He had three hits in game two of the doubleheader on Friday and two hits on both Saturday and Sunday. In Sunday's game, he had two doubles, two runs batted in, a run and a walk.
In the outfield, Corey Brown had a homer and two doubles this week. He drove in three. Shane Keough had two hits in both games on Friday, and two hits on Saturday. He drove in three runs. This week, he had a six-game hitting streak. Mike Lissman had two good days this week. Tuesday he had two hits, including a homer. On Wednesday, he had three hits, including two doubles. Besides that, he went 0 for the week.
After Monday’s series-ending game with Quad City, the Cougars have an off-day on Tuesday. After that, Kane County plays the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at home from Wednesday through Saturday. On Sunday, the Cougars go to Cedar Rapids to play the Kernels (Anaheim Angels).
About the writer
David Malamut has been a season ticket holder of the Cougars for the past 11 years. He has also been writing a daily website about the team for that long at http://malamut.net. David wrote a book about the history of the Cougars in 2005. Baseball In Kane County, Arcadia Publishing.
For daily updates on the Cougars, stats and game stories please go to my website, Voice of A Season Ticket Holder, http://malamut.net.