The Kane County Cougars lost one game last week, as they went 5-1, sweeping the Burlington Bees for the second time this season, and winning two out of the three games against Peoria. The Cougars are now 16-15, in fifth place and three games out of first.
The biggest problem for the team has still been their defense. Anthony Aliotti, Leonardo Gil and Michael Gilmartin all have six errors. The team makes too many mistakes in the field, and it's costing them wins.
This week started off with a 13-inning, 3-2 win in Burlington in the first game of the series. In the 13th, Gilmartin would single home Rashun Dixon to win the game. Max Stassi scored the first run of the game with a homer to left. In the seventh inning, Nino Leyja reached on a bunt single and throwing error, making it all the way to third on the play. Conner Crumbliss then hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Leyja. Leyja would have three hits, and Anthony Aliotti and Max Stassi both had two. Crumbliss had a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly. Robert Gilliam pitched very well. He went eight innings, giving up five hits and one run. He walked one and struck out seven. Gilliam would be able to get out of a second and third situation in the seventh inning with a double play. Max Peterson finished the game with a three-strikeout inning of work.
The Cougars would get 11 hits in the second game of the series along with six runs to win the game. They would get five doubles and a triple. Aliotti had three hits and scored two runs. Ian Krol had a great outing. He went six innings, giving up two hits and no runs. He walked two and struck out four.
Burlington would get all four of their runs in the ninth inning in the final game of the series as the Cougars would win 7-4 to sweep the series. Leonardo Gil had a three-run homer in the fourth. There were five walks for the Cougars, four of them would score, and that helped to beat the Bees. Gil had three hits and was a triple short of the cycle. Daniel Straily pitched well. He went six innings giving up five hits and no runs. He walked one and struck out seven. Bo Schultz also pitched well in two innings of work. Hector Garcia struggled in the ninth. He walked two and gave up four runs in one inning of work. Only one of the runs would be earned, but Garcia would make one of the errors in the inning. Both walks scored, and one other run scored on a wild pitch.
That is the second time this year the Cougars have swept a three game series against the Burlington Bees. Once at home and once in Burlington. They have outscored the Bees, 38-15.
The Cougars then came home to take on the Cubs affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs. They would win two out of the three games against the Chiefs. This is after getting swept in Peoria the week before.
In the first game the Cougars would lose 10-5. The Cougars just didn't have much. The pitching would give up eight walks and four of those walks would score. They also hit three batters and threw a wild pitch. Kyle Christensen made his Cougars debut and would survive into the fifth inning barley. He only would face three hitters in the fifth, walking two and hitting one of them. He gave up six hits and six runs. In all he walked three and struck out one. Peterson then came in an pitched two innings, giving up one hit and striking out three. Ryan Quigley also pitched well despite giving up an unearned run. Connor Hoehn gave up four hits and three runs in two innings of work. Offensively the Cougars would score four times in the fifth inning, on two hits and two walks. Stassi hit a solo homer in the sixth.
On Saturday the Cougars would shut out the Chiefs in the second game of the series, 5-0. Justin Marks pitched very well. He went six innings, giving up five hits. He walked two and struck out five. Schultz and Josh Lansford also had scoreless outings. In the first inning, the Cougars would score three runs. Gil walked with the bases loaded and Franklin Hernandez singled to left two score two more runs. Gilmartin would double home Hernandez in the seventh and Gil singled home House in the sixth.
The bats came alive in the finale of the series, as the Cougars would score 15 runs and get 13 hits. Chris Affinito would have two three-run homers. Crumbliss had three walks and a double and he scored three runs. Tyreace House and Leyja both had three hits. Gilliam pitched well. He went six innings, giving up five hits and one run. He walked four and struck out four. Garcia and Peterson both had scoreless innings. Jose Guzman gave up five runs on two hits in the eighth.
Next week the Cougars get to go to visit the rival Beloit Snappers (Minnesota Twins) for three game. After that the Quad Cities River Bandits (St. Louis Cardinals) come to town for a four game series.
Quotes From The Bench
Comments from Cougars manager Aaron Nieckula
On the last road trip
That was pretty good. We ran into hot baseball, ended up getting swept, not that we played poorly, we just didn't play well enough to win, and then we went into Burlington and played very well, good enough to win three games, so 3-4 is not necessarily a fantastic record, but I think on the road if you can break out at least .500, maybe a few games above, then you give yourself a chance especially if you start winning at home. But the most important thing is the way we are playing ball, the way the kids are playing the way the kids are practicing, getting ready for games, it's just a matter of time before we start win streaks together, as long as we maintain our level of preparation, and our positive attitude and never say die mentality.
On the starting pitching
It's been good. A few games here and there that we probably would like to forget about, but other than that I think we have been in just about every game that we have played. Starting pitching has giving us a chance, the bullpen has come in and for the most part has done their job. You just ask for starters to go out there and compete, give you what they've got on a daily basis because they only get to start once every five days, and if they can give us maybe five innings or a quality start of six innings, two or three runs or less, we feel like we have a chance.
On Ian Krol's last two starts
Krol did a nice job for us in Burlington and he also did a nice job for us in Cedar Rapids [in the loss], but the first game was a tough one. He pitched well enough to win, but that's the way it goes sometimes.
On injured pitcher Chris Mederos
He's got a right shoulder sprain, so he's going to be sent home, and continue his rehab at home. Hopefully he will be back with us in four to six weeks, depending on how his rehab goes.
On injured outfielder Kent Walton
He is on the seven-day disabled list with a left thumb injury, so he will be inactive for a few games.
On what Kyle Christensen brings to the club
He is a hard-throwing right-hander. He has a nice breaking pitch. I really haven't seen much of him. Actually [his first start] was the first time that I've actually seen him throw.
On Max Peterson
Great lefty out of the pen. A strike-thrower. Commands the zone, goes out there and pitches gives us a chance. I like the way he throws the ball and competes. A warrior, that's what you look for. He is fearless.
About the Author
David Malamut has been covering the Cougars since 1998, with his own website, (http://malamut.net). He has also wrtiten a book about the Cougars, "Baseball In Kane County Cougars" (Arcadia/2005). For daily updates on the Cougars, go to his website (http://malamut.net) or follow him on Twitter (http://twitter.com/davidmalamut) for in game news and notes.