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Cougars hustle past Peoria for series win

Published: Thursday, July 3, 2014 11:20 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, July 3, 2014 11:29 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Sean King for Shaw Media)
Kane County Cougars David Bote slides head first into third base Thursday against the Peoria Chiefs at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva.

GENEVA – David Bote created all kind of havoc with his legs – and his body – on the basepaths.

The Cougars second baseman allowed the team to score three runs after two were out in the bottom of the fourth inning of Thursday's 10-2 win against Peoria in front of 10,515 fans at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.

With two on and runners at second and third, Bote nubbed a slow grounder to third base, and he narrowly beat third baseman Rafael Medina's throw across the diamond as the Cougars moved ahead, 3-0.

Bote's infield single loomed larger when leadoff man Jake Hannemann followed with a single to right field. Carlos Penalver easily scored on the hit, and when Peoria right fielder Luis Perez's peg to third base deflected off Bote, Bote dashed the final 90 feet for another run and a 5-0 Cougars lead.

"Of all the people that needed that, it's Bote," Cougars manager Mark Johnson said. "He plays his [butt] off every day, and he's been struggling at the plate. That was a key play, a lucky hit I guess you could call it, but then he comes back [in the eighth inning] and hits a line drive up the middle."

The Cougars (55-28, 10-3 second half) matched their win total for the entire 2013 season and, in taking the rubber game of the three-game series, still have not lost a home series all season.

Cougars starting pitcher Daury Torrez (9-3) saw his scoreless inning streak snapped at 20 when Peoria scored twice in the top of the fifth but Torrez lasted seven innings and was largely in command.

"The last couple outings he's just been really consistent with his mechanics," Johnson said. "His tempo's been great, and he's not getting too far ahead of himself."

The Cougars led virtually the entire night after scoring two runs in the bottom of the first. Hannemann reached base when confusion among Peoria's middle infielders allowed Hannemann's blooper to drop. Two batters later, catcher Kyle Schwarber was hit by Chase Brookshire's pitch, and cleanup man Yasiel Balaguert followed by lacing a two-run double to left-center field.

Cougars designated hitter Cael Brockmeyer (2 for 4, three runs scored) clubbed a solo home run over the left field scoreboard to widen Kane County's lead to 6-2 in the bottom of the sixth. Brockmeyer hit for the cycle Sunday against Beloit.

The Cougars added four runs in the bottom of the eighth, including an RBI double from Shawon Dunston, Jr. and Bote's two-run single.

Cougars reliever James Pugliese pitched two innings of scoreless relief preceding a Fourth of July eve fireworks show in front of the large crowd in Geneva.

SHORT HOPS

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Sigh of relief

Cougars catcher Will Remillard left Wednesday's game with a hand injury. He didn't play Thursday but should be back soon, according to Cougars manager Mark Johnson.

"It was just a scary thing," Johnson said. "It was right on that first knuckle. That's a tough spot to get hit. It was one of those that was questionable whether something might have been broke but he came in today and [he was OK]."

Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs' first-round draft pick in June, started behind the plate Thursday and threw out one of two Chiefs who tried to steal on him. Schwarber has seen occasional duty at catcher when he's not playing left field.

Johnson makes up ground

After a brutal Year 1 with the Cougars from a wins-losses standpoint last year, Johnson has climbed all the way back to a winning overall record with the team.

After Thursday's win, Johnson is 110-108 overall at Kane County despite the Cougars going a franchise-worst 55-80 in 2013. This year's Cougars are 55-28.

"I really don't even think about that," Johnson said. "We just come in every day and go to work. This is an unbelievable group of guys that play really well together. The chemistry is off the charts. You don't have teams like this very often. I only played on a couple of them my whole career."

Johnson is fifth among Cougars managers in all-time wins, with leader Aaron Nieckula (285 wins) comfortably in the lead.

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