GENEVA – One of the Kane County Cougars’ lone bright spots in a 5-1 loss to Wisconsin on Friday night at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark was the performance of 37-year-old Shawn Camp, making his second rehab appearance with the club.
The Cubs reliever threw two scoreless innings of relief, allowing one hit and striking out two.
“He looked good,” Cougars manager Mark Johnson said. “His tempo was good. His pace was good. He mixed his pitches well.”
Johnson said Camp’s presence provided a valuable lesson to the young players on the team about how a major leaguer goes about his business.
“Camp’s a pro’s pro,” Johnson said. “There’s a reason why he’s been in the game as long as he has. He goes about his business the right way. He works hard. He pays attention during the game, and that’s good for these kids at this level to see.”
Camp gave up a single to the last batter he faced, Tyrone Taylor, but he promptly picked him off first base.
Taylor was 4 for 5 at the plate for the Timber Rattlers. Three of those hits came off Cougars starter Michael Heesch (3-5), who pitched four strong innings before allowing a pair of runs in the fifth and three in the sixth.
“He left the ball up a couple times and every time he left it up, they seemed not to miss it,” Johnson said. “They just got some timely hits and they just got the most out of when they did put the ball in play.”
Heesch gave up eight hits, including a double off the bat of Alfredo Rodriguez that scored the first two runs of the game.
Heesch walked four and struck out one.
Cougars hitters couldn’t solve Wisconsin starter Jorge Lopez (3-5), who came into the contest with an ERA of 7.47. Lopez allowed only two hits in six innings of work. He walked one and struck out six.
“He mixed his pitches well,” Johnson said. “He stayed down in the zone. He threw his changeup both to righties and lefties, so our guys had three pitches to worry about instead of two. Usually righty on righty at this level, you’re not worried about the changeup too much.”
The Cougars (29-35) scored their only run in the eighth off reliever Ryan Gibbard, thanks largely to Taylor misplaying catcher Willson Contreras’ one-out base hit into a triple. Contreras scored on Oliver Zapata’s grounder to second.
Surging Cougars center fielder Albert Almora went 1 for 4 on the night, dropping his batting average to .422.
The Cougars will try to even the three-game series, the team’s last series of the first half of the season, at 6:30 p.m. tonight. Righty Dillon Maples (0-1) will start for the Cougars.