There were some ups and down this past week as the Cougars played some really good games, and then also made some big mental mistakes in games. The Cougars are 6-5 on the year and in second place in the division.
Week In Review
In the game on Monday against the Burlington Bees the Cougars would pull away with six runs in the seventh to win 9-1. Chris Mederos pitched very well for the Cougars. He went six innings, allowing four hits and one unearned run. He threw 80 pitches. Hector Garcia and Josh Lansford also pitched well in relief. Kent Walton hit a grand slam in the seventh, and he would get two hits and drive in five runs.
Four runs in the first inning and two more in the third would help the Cougars to a 7-2 win on Tuesday against Burlington. The troubling part of the game was three errors by the Cougars that led to both of the runs against them being unearned. Anthony Aliotti had two doubles, each drove in a run. Connor Hoehn did a nice job coming out of the bullpen for 3.1 innings, giving up only one hit.
An 11 inning game in the final game of a series is always fun. The Cougars would win 6-5 on a bases loaded walk. Ian Krol didnt pitch too well in the game as he survived two innings, giving up four hits and four runs. Both of the walks he gave up scored. Bo Schultz, A.J. Huttenlocker and Jose Guzman all pitched well. Myrio Richard hit a homer and Connor Crumbliss had two infield hits. Max Stassi tied the game in the ninth with a double to left to score both Walton and Chris Affinito. Rashun Dixon would draw the walk in the eleventh to score Walton to win the game.
Things just didn’t go that well during the series with Beloit, as the Cougars would get outplayed in two of the games. In the first game they lost 6-5, as the Snappers would score three times in the ninth inning to win. Robert Gilliam gave up a homer in the third inning and then one of the other runs involved an error on him. Lansford pitched two innings, giving up only two hits. Hector Garcia gave up all three of the runs in the ninth to take the loss. Three walks did not help along with a wild pitch to score the final run. Crumbliss got on base four times in the game with two hits and two walks. Stassi had two hits, including a homer.
The Cougars did it to the Snappers with three runs of their own in the ninth to take a 5-4 win in game two of the series. Dan Straily pitched decently well, as he went into the sixth inning, giving up six hits and two runs. He had two wild pitches and gave up a homerun. The Cougars would hit into three double plays in the game, two of which ended innings. Richard had three hits, including a triple and two doubles, and he drove in three runs. Aliotti walked three times. In all, the Cougars walked nine times in the game. Three of those walks scored.
In the final game of the series it was brutal to watch the final innings for the Cougars, as the Snappers would score six runs in the final three innings, with five in the ninth, to win 6-0. Mederos pitched well. He went into the seventh inning, giving up three hits and one run, and he struck out five and gave up one walk. Ryan Quigley would give up all five runs and did not look very good. In the ninth he gave up a two- and a three-run homer. Richard had two hits and Walton had a double for the Cougars only three hits of the game.
Cedar Rapids then came to town and took the Cougars to town, as they would win 14-6 in a messy game. Justin Marks pitched poorly. He lasted into the fourth inning, giving up six hits and nine runs. Marks had a wild pitch, two hit batters and four walks. The rest of the pitchers really didn’t fare much better, as Lansford gave up two runs and Bo Schultz gave up three. Crumbliss had four walks and Dixon had a two-run triple to left center. Tyreace House and Leonardo Gil also had two hits apiece.
The final game of the week the Cougars would score four runs in the seventh to win 5-3 against Cedar Rapids. Ian Krol pitched ok, as he lasted four innings, giving up three hits and one run. He threw 68 pitches. The bullpen did ok. Hoehn and Huttenlocker both pitched shutouts. Jose Guzman gave up two runs in an inning. Crumbliss had three walks and two hits in his five plate appearances and Stassi had two hits.
Next week the Cougars finish their series against Cedar Rapids with a noon game on Monday. Then they go to Peoria (Cubs) for three games. After that it’s on to Clinton (Seattle) for three games.
Notes From The Bench
Comments from manager Aaron Nieckula:
On his assessment of the past week
We played some good ball, played some bad ball. We’ve just got to find that consistent level of play where we come out every day, and kind of know what to expect, but at the same time games like we had against Beloit, 6-0, is going to happen, games like last night (14-6) are going to happen. Where it’s a lopsided loss, you try to minimize those, and come out here and try to play good ball, good pitching, good defense, timely hitting and good base running. We have done that for the most part this year, so I think last week has been very good.
On mental mistakes
Mental mistakes are part of the game. We always tell these guys that you have to minimize your mental mistakes. We are all human beings, we all make mistakes, but what separates big leaguers from minor leaguers is the ability to minimize mental and physical errors, to a certain degree. As a manager I can live with mental mistakes but if it becomes a habit and it happens over and over and over again the issue has to be addressed, and taken care of, otherwise you are not going to get better. You’re just going to stay stagnate or you’re going to get worse. Keep playing hard. Physical mistakes will happen.
On the pitching so far
Pitching has been great. The starting rotation has done a decent job. I would like to see a little better consistency out of the bullpen, but for the most part I've been very satisfied with the way the guys have thrown the ball, the way they have competed. to give us a chance. Everyday these guys are out here working hard getting ready to take the mound. That’s all you can ask for.
Any update on injured Cougars pitcher Jonathan Joseph
Nope, just continue to rehab and try to get him healthy and try to get him back in there as soon as we can.
Comment From Kane County Pitching Coach Jimmy Escalante
On having the pitchers using a stick in their pitching hand instead of how they had been using a towel to simulate the ball when practicing. Is that something new?
Yes it’s something that Gil Patterson came up with. It’s just something to just be able to feel and hear and see in front of you. It’s the same kind of concept behind the towel, but the towel gets floppy on the way back, so you can’t really feel the extension sometimes I feel, and (the towel) raps around if it’s a windy day. Really it doesn’t do much but do the same thing that the towel does. Doesn’t do anything to do with arm strength. It’s more of a feel thing, and when you hear the stick go through the air it makes like a wipe sound, so it cracks through the air and you can hear where your extension is at.