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KC Cougars

Cougars’ Skulina swatted by LumberKings

Kane County Cougars starter Tyler Skulina pitches Tuesday against the Clinton LumberKings at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva.
Kane County Cougars starter Tyler Skulina pitches Tuesday against the Clinton LumberKings at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva.

GENEVA – Kane County right-hander Tyler Skulina entered Tuesday’s home game against Clinton with a 6.14 earned run average.

He left the game with an even higher ERA after giving up five runs in 21/3 innings as the LumberKings earned a 7-4 Midwest League victory at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.

“It just wasn’t my day, left a couple of balls up,” Skulina said. “A couple ground balls here and there didn’t go my way.”

With 13 games to play, the Cougars can lose no more than four games to avoid breaking the club’s single-season record of 76 losses. Former managers Joel Youngblood (1992) and Aaron Nieckula (2007) guided those teams.

Clinton scored a run in the first on a Dario Pizzano home run and knocked Skulina out with four runs in the third, three of them coming on a bases-loaded double by Taylor Ard.

That was it for Skulina (0-2), who was replaced by fellow 2013 Cubs draft selection Rob Zastryzny.

“[Skulina] threw me a first-pitch curveball for a strike and I thought there was a good chance he might come back with the same pitch to keep me off balance,” Ard said.

“He was struggling. I think he just wanted to flip the pitch up there for a strike and get me to roll over on it. I was able to see it early enough, put a good swing on it and find a hole down the line.

“It was a big moment for us because it gave us a kind of a cushion and eventually was the difference in the game.”

Kane County (50-72 overall, 20-35 second half) scored a run in its half of the first inning as Gioskar Amaya led off with a double, moved to third on a single by Oliver Zapata and scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Jeimer Candelario.

Clinton (63-63, 30-27) increased its lead to 6-1 with a run off Zastryzny in the fifth, but the Cougars responded with two in the fifth inning. Giuseppe Papaccio led off with a walk and Jose Dore followed with a single. Both advanced a base on wild pitch, and Papaccio scored on yet another wild pitch. Reggie Golden’s RBI groundout scored Dore.

The LumberKings added a run in the ninth on a home run by D.J. Peterson, who was 3 for 4 with a double, the home run, a walk and two RBIs.

Kane County got the run back in the bottom of the ninth when Golden singled home Papaccio.

The Cougars had the tying runs at the plate with one out in the ninth, but Zapata struck out and Candelario lined out to first.

“I’m getting balls up I probably shouldn’t be,” Skulina said. “I just have to keep working at it, make sure my body is going toward home plate, make sure I’m finishing my pitches, keeping the ball down.”

Clinton starter Steven Ewing went five innings for the win in his LumberKings debut. He allowed three earned runs on five hits, one walk and three strikeouts.

Amaya was 2 for 4 with a double and a walk, Rock Shoulders 2 for 4 with a double and Papaccio 2 for 3 with a walk. 

James Pugliese, a right-hander from Trenton, N.J., who was promoted Tuesday from the Short-A Boise Hawks, will make his Kane County and Fifth Third Ballpark debut at 6:30 p.m. today against Beloit.

Pugliese was selected by the Cubs int he 18th round of the 2011 draft and pitched in 15 games in 2012, 11 of them starts, for Boise.

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