The Kane County Cougars are stuck in a rut. They just cannot hit with runners on-base, and they always have one or two bad innings when they give up the game.
On Monday they beat the Clinton LumberKings, 6-4, to finish off that series. Murphy Smith started and went six innings, giving up seven hits and two runs. He would give up a homerun to Ryan Royster. Tyler Ladendorf drove in Leonardo Gil and Michael Spina drove in Nino Leyja in the sixth. In the eighth, the Cougars would add the other four runs. Jeremy Barfield drove in both Gil and Leyja and then Stephen Parker drove in Barfield. Petey Paramore would finish the scoring by coming home on an error by the shortstop.
On Tuesday the Cougars started a series against the Quad City River Bandits and would lose 4-2 in the opener. Kenneth Smalley went into the sixth inning, giving up seven hits and three runs. All three of the runs came in the first inning, which saw eight men come to the plate. Smalley had runners on-base in all but two innings. Scott Deal did a nice job in relief. He came in with runners on second and third and nobody out and then hit the first batter to load the bases. He would then get two strikeouts and a fielder's choice to avoid giving up any runs. He pitched three innings, giving up on one hit. Trey Barham gave up a run in the ninth inning. On offense, Barfield tripled to score Spina in the sixth when the centerfielder lost the ball in the lights. Spina would also drive in Leyja for the other run.
Anvioris Ramirez pitched one heck of a game on Wednesday. He went into the seventh, giving up five hits and one run. He walked one and struck out five in the Cougars’ 4-1 win over the Bandits. The one run was a Jack Cawley leadoff homer to left in the third. Parker drove in Leyja in the third and in the fifth with doubles to left and Ladendorf tripled home both Leyja and Parker in the seventh. Paramore was tossed from the game.
Mathieu Leblanc-Poirier pitched well on Thursday against the Bandits. He would go six innings giving up three hits and two runs. The game would go 15 innings and the Cougars would eventually win, 3-2. Matt Fitts, Justin Murray, Josue Selenes, A.J. Huttenlocker and Barham all had scoreless outings. Parker would hit a two-run homer in the sixth. In the 15th, before it was Dusty Napoleon's chance to hit, he was warming up in the bullpen to come in for the next inning. He wasn't needed to pitch, as he singled to second to score Paramore to win the game.
Friday felt like the Cougars were never in the game. They got behind 3-0 into the third and would claw their way back before losing, 4-3, in the series finale. Shawn Haviland had a really rough first three innings, as he gave up all three runs and all seven hits in those innings. On offense, Chris Berroa singled home Franklin Hernandez in the third, Spina drove in Parker who had tripled in the fourth and Paramore drove home Spina in the sixth to account for all of the scoring.
Saturday was a disaster in the first game of the series at Burlington. The Cougars would lose 8-1 and not look good. Spina drove in Ladendorf for Kane County’s only run and Paramore had three hits in the game. Murphy Smith started and got shelled. He went five innings, giving up 11 hits and six runs. Matt Fitts wasn't much better in his inning of work, allowing three hits and two runs. The Bees had 17 hits in the game.
If Saturday was a disaster then Sunday was a nightmare, as the Cougars would lose 6-3. They would make five errors, four of which were by Leyja. He commited two in the fifth and two in the sixth. Five of the runs by the Bees came in the fifth inning. Smalley had a rough outing but wasn't that bad. He went into the sixth, giving up six hits and three earned runs. He walked four and struck out three. Spina and Smalley would be ejected in the game after the sixth inning.
Stats of Note
* Stephen Parker had seven RBIs last week.
* Tyler Ladendorf is batting .220 with a 659 OPS in 17 games since being traded to Oakland.
* Nino Leya’s four errors on Sunday more than doubled his season output with Kane County. Leyja is batting .300 over his last 10 games, however.
* Shawn Haviland leads the Cougars with 132 innings pitched this season.
* Kenneth Smalley has allowed three runs in each of his last four starts, but his season ERA is still 2.46.
Next week the Cougars are on the road the entire week. The continue their trip in Burlington, Iowa, against the Bees (Kansas City) through Tuesday. Then finally they get an off day. It will be the first one in 28 days. Then it’s a commuter series against the rival Beloit Snappers (Minnesota).
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. Or follow my blog http://davidmalamut.blogspot.com.