Kane County Notebook: Second Half Malaise

After a strong first half that resulted in a playoff berth, the Kane County Cougars have struggled in the second half, going 11-19 during the second half. David Malamut details the Cougars' play over the past week.

The Kane County Cougars have not really played a complete game this week. Either their offense, pitching or defense didn't show up in any particular game. Thus far, the Cougars are near the bottom of their division in the second half. Thankfully, they already clinched a playoff spot for their performance in the first half of the season. From July 14-21, the Cougars went 3-5.

On Monday, the Cougars finished their series in South Bend. The Cougars would win, 5-3. Todd Johnson hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning and Scott Hodsdon pitched well. All of the league had the day off on Tuesday to watch a great All-Star game for the major leaguers.

On Wednesday, the Cougars would come back from the break and greet Great Lakes to the Elf. The Loons scored three runs in the eighth inning to take the game, 5-4, in a comeback. Andrew Lambo hit a three-run homer off of Nick Walters to decide the game. Scott Deal also gave up a homer, but he pitched well in the no-decision. Michael Richard had a two-run double in the fourth to help the offense. D.J. Hollingsworth was hit by a pitch twice, once for an RBI, and put down a sacrifice bunt in the eighth.

In game two of the series, the Loons scored two runs in the second, third and fifth innings to take the game, 7-3. Lance Sewell went the first four and just gave up too many hits in a row and was hung with the loss. Brad Hertzler then came along and gave-up seven hits in four innings. The Cougars were down 6-0 going into the eighth inning. Michael Richard had a two-run single in the eighth to make the game a little tighter at the end.

There was a real pitchers' duel in the finale on Friday – the Cougars would score 17 runs and give up 10 runs. There were 29 hits and four errors in the game. Adam Klein had four walks and scored after three of those hits. He also had a double and a steal. Jemile Weeks stole two bases and was hit by a pitch twice. He would score three times. Justin Frash drove in three runs. D.J. Hollingsworth stole two bases.

Next came the Lansing Lugnuts to Geneva. In the first game of the series, the Cougars lost, 8-2. 2008 draft pick Anthony Capra made his second start since signing out of Wichita State and he lasted into the fourth inning. He would give up two homers in the first inning. Brent Lysander pitched well in 2.1 innings. He would give up one hit and one unearned run. His main problem was three walks.

On Sunday, the Cougars would again lose to the Lugnuts, this time by a score of 10-8. A six-run seventh really hurt. Nick Walters gave up five of those runs and two balks would not help him. Chad Kerfoot started and went the first five innings. He gave up a three-run homer to Justin Jackson in the third inning. The reason it was three runs is he walked the two men in front of Jackson. Jemile Weeks had three more hits, including two doubles.

The Cougars got back into the win column on Monday, beating Lansing by a score of 9-8 in 10 innings. Brad Hertzler earned the win with a scoreless 10th inning. Jemile Weeks had three hits and a walk and drove-in two runs. Toddric Johnson had two doubles and two RBIs, while Jake Smith had three hits and Greg Dowling and Matt Ray collected two hits each. The star of the game, however, was Shane Keough, who went 3-5 with a walk, a homer, two RBIs and two runs scored. The homer was Keough's first of the season.

Player Highlights

- After a slow start, A's 2008 top pick Jemile Weeks has really picked up the pace at the plate. The second baseman has a seven-game hitting streak and he is 12 for his last 29 with seven runs scored, two doubles, five RBIs, five walks and three stolen bases. On the season, he is hitting .283 with a .459 OBP.

- Shortstop Michael Richard is red-hot. Over the past 10 games, he is batting .415 with nine runs scored and nine RBIs with seven walks. He has missed a lot of time with injuries, but Richard has 27 stolen bases in 48 games and he is bating .335. His OBP is .417 and he has 24 walks against 20 strike-outs. Since the All-Star break, Richard is hitting .375 with 19 stolen bases and a 905 OPS in 28 games.

- Kane County has done a lot of running this season. The Cougars are sixth in the league with 107 stolen bases in 150 opportunities. The Cougars are second in the league with a .342 team OBP.

- The Cougars, who are 50-48 on the season, are third in the league in team ERA with a 3.42 ERA.

- Right-hander Chad Kerfoot is quietly putting together a good season. He is 5-1 with a 2.55 ERA with three saves in 49.1 innings. Kerfoot has made 18 appearances (two starts) and he has 48 strike-outs and 10 walks.

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