GENEVA – Cougars right fielder Jose Dore lingered to lean against the dugout rail after Saturday's series opener against Cedar Rapids.
He wasn't pondering the game – the Cougars absorbed enough in a 6-0 loss to the Kernels – as much as catching his first glimpse of the high-flying Jesse White Tumblers.
"It was awesome, man," Dore said. "I mean, big shout-out to them. That's pretty amazing what they're doing."
Switch out a pronoun or two, and Dore easily could have been talking about Kernels right-hander Jose Berrios, who limited the Cougars to two hits in 7 1/3 innings.
Dore notched the first of those, a single to right field with one out in the sixth, and Dan Vogelbach had the other. Had designated hitter Rock Shoulders not drilled Berrios on his throwing elbow with a liner in the eighth, the Cougars (47-68 overall, 17-30 second half) might have saluted Berrios further.
"He just had really great command with his fastball, you know. He kept us off-balance. He was going in and out, kind of putting it where he wanted it," Dore said. "When a pitcher is able to command his fastball, you know, that makes his other stuff even better."
Western Division-leading Cedar Rapids (71-46, 31-17) created more than enough breathing room for Berrios with a four-run fourth inning that opened with a throwing error by third baseman Jeimer Candelario.
The Kernels struck for each of their runs against loser Felix Pena with two outs. Two additional errors followed in the inning, which also included a two-base wild pitch that allowed Kernels second baseman Jorge Polanco to score what ultimately held up as the winning run.
"That was pretty ugly. That was really ugly, actually," Cougars manager Mark Johnson said. "You had that two-base wild pitch and then after that the wheels fell off. .. You have those nights, but just hope that you can salvage something and leave it at that one run, but we just kind of threw it around a little bit."
Not the Kernels. As it has all season, crisp, fundamental play steered the club's success.
A season-high crowd of 11,979 attended the game, eclipsing the previous mark of 11,304 on July 4.
Most fans offered Berrios a polite ovation as he left the field. Cedar Rapids recovered to get the 1-5-3 putout of Shoulders after the liner, but Berrios – who walked one against seven strikeouts – was visibly favoring the outside part of his elbow.
"It swelled up pretty good," Kernels manager Jake Mauer said. "We'll see how it is tomorrow. It'll probably be pretty ugly, but we hope it's just a bruise."
The Cougars, who still can win or split their fourth successive series with victories Sunday and Monday, hope to treat this result in a similar manner.
Look away and move forward.
"Just forget about this one and come out tomorrow, play our best," Dore said. "We're trying to make a name for ourselves and finish strong."