After winning the first half division championship, the Kane County Cougars have started the second half 4-5. This week the Cougars went 3-3. They split the series with Peoria, and split the first two games in Clinton.
The team has not been hitting that much this half, and they had nearly two games without scoring any runs.
The team had Monday off, and on Tuesday they opened the series against Peoria. They would win the first game 4-3. The Cougars scored three runs in the seventh and one in the ninth. The one in the ninth would provide the final difference because they would give up two runs in the top of the ninth to the Chiefs. Justin Murray gave up the runs, as he went the one inning.
That made it so that Kenneth Smalley did not get a decision, even though he pitched well again. He went six innings, giving up five hits and one runs. He threw 101 pitches. The only run he gave up came in the first inning on a ground out. After that he did not allow another runner get past second. Jamie Richmond pitched two innings, giving up one hit.
The big inning for the Cougars came in the seventh, when they scored three runs on five hits. Carlos Arrieche hit a sacrifice fly and Dusty Napoleon and David Thomas both had run scoring singles. The winning run came in the ninth with one out. David Thomas doubled to right and then Dusty Coleman grounded one up the middle. The ball hit off the shortstop's glove and into center, and Thomas came around to score on the play.
Starting a new month, the Cougars would beat the Chiefs, 3-2. All the Cougars' scoring came in the first three innings. The Chiefs would score twice in the seventh. Pedro Figueroa pitched well. He went seven innings, giving up seven hits and two unearned runs. He did not walk anyone and struck out six. Three times he worked his way out jams with men on third, without them scoring. His two runs against came in the seventh, after an error and a single, Jose Made tripled to right to score both.
The Cougars offense came from a Jason Christian run scoring single in the first and his two-run single in the third.
The Cougars lost game three of the series, 3-1. Anthony Capra basically had two bad pitches and both of them left the ballpark. The other run against him was a walk and a sacrifice fly. Scott Deal did a nice job in relief. Brett Hunter pitched two innings, and he gave up three hits and got four strike-outs.
The only run of the game for the Cougars came in the eighth inning when Carlos Arrieche singled home Christopher Berroa. Jason Christian and Stephen Parker had two hits apiece.
On the third of July, the final game against Peoria, the Cougars lost, 7-1. The Chiefs had the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez and Reed Johnson on a rehab assignment in front of a stadium record crowd of 14,872. Mathieu Leblanc-Poirier started and got roughed up. He went three innings and gave up six hits and five runs. Matt Fitts pitched well in three innings of relief, as he gave up two hits. The lone Cougar tally came in the second inning when Parker scored Jeremy Barfield on a ground out.
After the zoo that was the day before, the Cougars went on the road to Clinton, Iowa. They would get shutout, 5-0, in the first game. Not much went right for the Cougars. Juan Nunez hurt his leg and had to be taken out of the game -- only one problem, Leonardo Gil (who was promoted that day from Vancouver) had to arrive at the ballpark first, so they had someone else to put in the game. Shawn Haviland started and it was not one of his better outings. He lasted four innings, giving up six hits and five runs. All five runs came in the first three innings. Jamie Richmond and Trey Barham then came in for four innings of three hit relief.
The Kane County offense broke out on Sunday against Clinton. They won 8-2. Gil had a run scoring triple in the fourth. Barfield had a run-scoring double in the sixth and Parker had a two-run single in the third. The Cougars walked seven times and struck out three times, plus they got nine hits.
Kenneth Smalley pitched great. He went six innings, giving up four hits and one earned run. He would get the win, his seventh of the season. He basically made one mistake, a two-out homer in the fourth. The story of the game though was Brett Hunter, though. He was fantastic. He went two and two-thirds innings, giving up one hit and one walk. He struck out eight. The first three hitters he faced were all caught looking, and he struck out six of the first seven he faced.
The Cougars have been hit hard by injuries in the last few weeks. Franklin Hernandez has an ankle problem, Dusty Coleman has a groin strain, David Thomas hurt his hamstring and Juan Nunez hurt his knee.
Next week the Cougars continue the series in Clinton on Monday and Tuesday against the Lumberkings (Seattle). On Wednesday through Friday, Burlington (Kansas City) comes to town. Over the weekend Great Lakes Loons (Los Angeles) will be the Cougars' guests.
About the writer
David Malamut has been a season ticket holder of the Cougars for the past 13 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 David's website, Voice of A Season Ticket Holder, http://malamut.net. You can also follow the Cougars on my twitter page, http://twitter.com/davidmalamut.