GENEVA – Beloit’s 5-4 win against the Cougars on Wednesday afternoon provided a blueprint for Kane County’s struggles to start the second half of the season.
The Cougars have loads of talent and often field a lineup that appears to be better than its opponent, but Kane County lately has been kept out of the win column for a variety of reasons.
In Wednesday’s loss, the Cougars out-hit Beloit, 12-5, but Kane County pitchers also handed out seven walks and hit three batters. Beloit sent nine men to the plate in the third, scoring three runs with the help of three walks, three wild pitches and a passed ball to take a 4-2 lead they would not relinquish.
Kane County scored twice in the eighth but would get no closer as the Snappers (48-28 overall, 5-1 second half) retired the heart of the Cougars’ order in the bottom of the ninth.
The loss is the sixth straight to start the second half for the Cougars (30-42, 0-6), who find themselves in last place in the Midwest League Western Division.
“I feel like we’ve been real close all year and we’re trying to get over the hump,” Cougars designated hitter Dan Vogelbach said. “We’re trying to come together as a team and keep pushing. The best teams go through stretches like this. I think if we can get out of this pretty soon, we’re going to shock a lot of people.”
Cougars starter Jose Rosario (0-4) was touched for a run in the first inning before settling down in the second and third, only hitting a pair of batters.
After Gioskar Amaya gave Kane County a 2-1 lead with a homer to left, Rosario ran into trouble in the fourth. Rosario walked Beloit leadoff man Matt Olson before permitting RBI hits to Ryan Delgado and Chris Bostick. Mixed in between the RBI hits were three Rosario wild pitches and a passed ball by Kane County catcher Carlos Escobar.
The three-run inning was sandwiched between an otherwise clean game for Kane County pitchers, who limited the Snappers to five hits – only one for extra bases.
Justin Amlung came on in relief of Rosario and escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Beloit cleanup hitter Renato Nunez. Amling was nearly perfect over the next 31/3 innings, allowing only one run while striking out six.
During the Cougars’ six-game skid, losses have usually come down to one fateful inning.
“Pitching wise, we just let guys on base. Those free passes come back to get you,” manager Mark Johnson said. “Every leadoff walk we gave them scored. It seems like every play we don’t make costs us a run.”