Midwest League: Cougars pitching paves way to win
By Mike Knapp For Sun-Times Media June 27, 2012 7:58PM
Cougars pitcher Angel Baez delivers during Wednesday's game against Beloit at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 29, 2012 5:12PM
The Kane County Cougars’ offense had been stymied by Beloit pitching the last couple days, so Wednesday the Cougars staff decided to return the favor.
After scoring just two runs in losing the first two games of the series — and being shut out on three hits Tuesday night — the offense generated just enough for the trio of Angel Baez, Rudy Brown and Jonathan Dooley to salvage the final game of the set with a 3-1 win.
With a game-time temperature of 86 degrees and a wind blowing out to center at 20 mph, it appeared that the day would belong to the offense, but both pitching staffs were very stingy. Instead, the two teams combined to throw 19 ground ball outs (including three double plays) while striking out 15.
“It was a good baseball game,” said Cougars manager Buck Buchanan. “We got some key hits, pitched well and played good defense.”
Baez got it started for the Cougars (3-3 second half, 37-39 overall), tossing 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball, allowing three hits while striking out four and walking four. He was credited with the win to even his record at 2-2.
Rudy Brown took over and took the game into the eighth and departed with one on and one out in favor of Jonathan Dooley, who got off to a bit of a rough start as he allowed his inherited runner to score to make it a 2-1 game. But eventually he got the last five outs of the game to earn his third save.
The bullpen has seen plenty of work so far in the season’s second half, and in 23 2/3 innings has given up just eight runs for an ERA of 3.04.
“The bullpen has been great,” Dooley said. “The starters haven’t been giving up many runs, and the bullpen has been coming out clutch. We’ve been shutting guys down and preserving wins for guys.
“(Baez) did a great job out there and we don’t want to screw his win up, that’s our job.”
The Cougars finally broke a scoreless game in the fifth when they loaded the bases and Kenny Swab scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Justin Trapp. Alex Llanos followed with a double to score Tim Ferguson and make it 2-0. The Cougars added an insurance run in the eighth when Danny Mateo tripled and scored on a Julio Aparicio single.
The runs in the fifth broke a scoreless string of 21 innings dating back to the first frame Monday night.
The Cougars now welcome Burlington and former Cougars manager Aaron Nieckula for a three-game series that begins at 6:30 Thursday. Bryan Brickhouse, a third-round pick for the Kansas City Royals in 2011, will make his second start for the Cougars.