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KC Cougars

Dunston's season of swings hits high in July

Should outfielder Shawon Dunston Jr.'s present pattern hold, August stands to be a month of struggles.

He'd just as soon maintain his current tear through the so-called "dog days."

After batting .163 in April, he hit .311 in May, then followed with a .189 June. In 20 July games entering Tuesday, Dunston was clicking again, batting .409 and taking a seven-game hitting streak into the opener of a three-game series at Wisconsin.

"Just grind out my at-bats, give my teammates the best at-bat I can and help the team win as much as possible," Dunston said. "Luckily, I've been successful."

Dunston's rise mirrors his climb into the leadoff spot after the parent Cubs promoted Jake Hannemann to Advanced-A Daytona last week.

Before the brief Wisconsin trip, Dunston batted .523 (12 for 23) in a six-game homestand against South Bend and West Michigan, notching five multi-hit games. He doubled twice Monday and drove in the team's lone run.

Dunston carried a .286 season average in 213 at-bats into Tuesday and could see more regular duty after a recent flurry of roster moves. An 11th round draft pick in 2011, he hit .290 in 49 games with Short-A Boise in 2013 after missing three weeks with a leg injury.

"He's stepping up. He's taking control of that leadoff role, and we've just got to have some guys behind him to start following and getting some big hits also," Cougars manager Mark Johnson said. "You can't do it with just one guy."

Back Holm: St. Charles North product Jeff Holm went 2 for 11 with a solo home run in three games as West Michigan's designated hitter Saturday through Monday at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.

His contributions still helped amount to the optimal team result. The Whitecaps swept the series, serving notice for a possible postseason encounter with the Cougars while handing Kane County its first home series loss of 2014.

"We were joking around and stuff the whole time about this being his backyard and winning for Holm a little bit," Whitecaps first baseman Dominic Ficociello said. "It was nice to come in here and sweep these guys for him."

Holm added two walks and two runs scored in the series, while his solo shot in Sunday's ninth inning proved the difference in a 2-1 victory.

Holm opened the season with Advanced-A Lakeland (Florida) in the Detroit Tigers system before rejoining Class-A West Michigan in May. In July 2012, he went 1 for 8 with two RBIs in two games at Kane County, which took two of three from the Whitecaps in the series.

Now, look here: Minor League Baseball president Pat O'Conner estimated Monday's visit to Fifth Third Bank Ballpark was the third or fourth of his executive career.

In town as part of a luncheon sponsored by The Executives Club of Chicago that featured Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts as keynote speaker, O'Conner again lauded his surroundings.

"The park looks great. The field, that's the best I've seen the field look that I can recall," O'Conner said. "Just the park,the way they did the expansion [adding suites and a covered concourse in 2009], it's a big minor league park, but it's a friendly minor league park."

Et cetera: Infielder Giuseppe Papaccio lived with the family of former Seton Hall teammate Dan Ditusa, a St. Charles East alumnus, upon joining the Cougars in July 2013. Although the family extended the same offer when Papaccio returned last week, Papaccio elected to live with another host family because he "wouldn't want to jam" the Ditusas. Dan Ditusa recently returned home from summer ball, joining his two siblings and parents. ... Australian-born managers are 4-2 at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark this season. Fort Wayne's Michael Collins and West Michigan's Andrew Graham both hail from Down Under. ... The Cougars have 15 regular season home games remaining, spread over four homestands.

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