Cougars Drop Opener, Magic Number
GENEVA, Ill.- A tight race for the second half Western Division Wild Card will continue another night after the Kane County Cougars (36-31, 71-65) fell in the series opener to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (36-32, 67-70) by a score of 2-1 Saturday night. With a magic number now at two, the Cougars can still clinch a playoff spot Sunday evening with a win and a Beloit loss.
Despite 20 total hits in the game, both teams' pitching staffs stole the show Saturday. The Cougars experience their first lead change in over a week, and it was unfortunately for the worse.
For the fourth straight game, the Cougars scored first. In the third inning, Yan Sanchez singled home Yoel Yanqui for a 1-0 lead. Wisconsin's starter Scott Sunitsch (3-0) shut down the Cougars' chance to score any more runs with a fielder's choice and a strikeout. That theme continued.
It was a short-lived lead as Wisconsin tied things up in the top of the fourth on Chad McClanahan's RBI sacrifice fly. Two batters later Trever Morrison singled home Gabriel Garcia. It was the only two runs that Cole Bartlett (5-4) issued Saturday, but it was enough to suffer the tough luck loss. Bartlett finished the day with seven innings of two-run baseball with no walks and six strikeouts.
After Sunitsch, Gabe Friese worked two and two-third innings of scoreless baseball. Friese left with a runner on in the eighth, but Robbie Hitt (9) took over and started his ninth with a scoreless inning. Hitt worked a four-out save, including stranding the tying run on the bases to end the game.
The Cougars host Wisconsin Sunday with a chance to clinch at home. A couple of left-handers take the mound in the Cougars' Mack Lemieux (4-10, 4.31) and Wisconsin's Wilfred Salaman (0-2, 7.13). First pitch from Northwestern Medicine Field is at 6:30 p.m. For tickets call 630-232-8811 or visit kccougars.com.
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