DAVENPORT, Iowa – Kane County Cougars manager Mark Johnson assured his club would sport a speedy attack this season.
It took just a few pitches for the Cougars to show as much during Thursday's Midwest League season opener at Quad Cities, an 8-4 victory before a crowd of 1,821 at Modern Woodmen Park.
Center fielder Jake Hannemann singled off River Bandits pitcher Andrew Thurman's glove on the first pitch of the game and advanced to second on a passed ball one pitch after that. Yasiel Balaguert's two-run double two batters later sparked an early outburst that saw the Cougars score six runs in the first four innings.
In the seventh inning, the Cougars added onto their lead with Jordan Hankins' sacrifice fly to plate Ben Carhart. They tacked on one more in the ninth frame on another Balaguert double to bring home Carhart again.
Left-hander Nathan Dorris earned the win after two innings of relief, allowing no runs and striking out two.
Right-hander Paul Blackburn, a supplemental first-round pick of the parent Cubs in 2012, started for the Cougars, spacing four runs, nine hits and three strikeouts in four innings.
Opening the season against Quad Cities for the third straight spring, the Cougars will play a four-game series against the River Bandits before hosting Fort Wayne in their home opener at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Expect lots of spunk from the Cougars offensively.
"A lot of hit and runs, a lot of bunting," Johnson said this week. "A lot of – I shouldn't say 'small ball' but it's going to be different, and there's going to be a lot of runners in motion on the bases and guys that are going to put the bat on the ball and put it in play."