This week the Kane County Cougars closed out the 2009 regular season with a 4-3 week. They would win both series during the week against Quad Cities and Peoria.
The Cougars got ready for the playoffs with a reshuffled rotation, giving some starters a breather.
On Monday, the Cougars finished up the series against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Milwaukee) with a 2-0 loss. Trey Barham had a spot start and pitched two innings and got the loss. He gave up an unearned run in the first after an error by Tyler Ladendorf to leadoff the game. Scott Deal, Jose Guzman, Paul Smyth and Josue Selenes all threw scoreless outings. Michael Spina led the way with two hits. The big problem in the game was Cougar errors, as they would make three, Spina made one and Ladendorf made two.
After an off-day on Tuesday, the Cougars would go into Peoria for a three-game series. In the first game, the Cougars would lose 3-2. Stephen Parker drove-in Connor Crumbliss with a single to right cetner to start the Cougars' scoring. Jeremy Barfield hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth to bring home Parker to finish it off. Kenneth Smalley pitched five innings, giving up four hits and one run. He walked three and hit two. AJ Huttenlocker then came in for three innings and gave up four hits and two runs in taking the loss.
The second game of the series on Thursday saw the Cougars win 8-4 behind a four-run seventh. In the first, Parker drove-in Crumbliss. In the third, Carlos Arrieche hit his first homerun on US soil. After the homer, Crumbliss would score on an error. Franklin Hernandez got Leonardo Gil home on a fielder's choice in the fifth. In the seventh, Barfield drove-in Crumbliss, Petey Paramore drove in Parker and, after a pitching change, Ladendorf drove in both Paramore and Barfield. Murphy Smith had a good outing. He got into the sixth inning, giving up four hits and two runs.
Friday's game was another Cougars' win, as they beat the Chiefs, 6-3, to win the series. Ladendorf had three hits, including a two-run homer in the sixth. Anvioris Ramirez started and went five. He gave up six hits and three runs but got the win. Deal and Smyth both pitched two scoreless innings.
Coming back home for a weekend series against the Quad Cities River Bandits (St. Louis), the Cougars would drop the first game, 7-3. Shawn Haviland struggled. He went into the fifth, giving up 10 hits and seven runs. The Bandits were all over him, getting two in the second and four in the fifth. Selenes and Huttenlocker came in and pitched very well out of the bullpen. Meanwhile the Cougars would get a run in the first off of a Barfield single to drive in Parker. An error in the sixth let Spina come home after a Ladendorf single to left and a wild pitch in the eighth let Parker come home.
On Sunday, the Cougars would be led by a good pitching performance by Mathieu Leblanc-Poirier. He went six innings giving up five hits and one run and the Cougars won, 4-1. Barham pitched the final three innings for the save. Hernandez tripled home Ladendorf in the second and a fielder's choice, an error and a wild pitch would score the other runs.
The final game of the regular season would see the Cougars win, 4-2. Deal made a spot start and he lasted into the third inning. Jose Guzman really pitched well. He went 3.1 innings, giving up one hit. Huttenlocker, Justin Murray and Smyth all pitched, as well. Ladendorf would single home Spina and Hernandez singled home Barfield in the second. In the eighth inning, with the bases loaded, Hernandez hit a grounder to second and the second baseman threw the ball into left field allowing both Spina and Barfield to score.
The playoffs start on Wednesday with the first game being in Burlington (Kansas City), Iowa. Kenneth Smalley will make the start for the Cougars. The second game will be at home in Geneva, Illinois, and Murphy Smith will get the ball. If necessary, the third game is at home and Anvioris Ramirez will pitch. The series is a best-of-three.
Last year the Bees swept the Cougars out of the first round on their way to win the league championship.
The Cougars went 11-7 against Burlington this season. Kane County hit .265 against the Bees and the pitching staff posted a 3.66 ERA. Jeremy Barfield (851 OPS), Franklin Hernandez (.321 BA) and Petey Paramore (.353 BA) had success against Burlington offensively, while Smalley had a 3.94 ERA in three starts, Smith allowed six runs in five innings in his one start and Ramirez allowed two runs in six innings in his one start versus the Bees.