GENEVA – Clinton right-hander Tyler Herb hoped to rendezvous with Cougars catcher Will Remillard this weekend in a reunion of former Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.
With Remillard rehabbing an injury at home in New York, it wasn't to be, although Herb hardly needed his one-time batterymate to gather intel on the Cougars.
"They have the best record in the minor leagues," Herb said. "Coming in and facing them, it's always a tough challenge, and hopefully, we can give them a good fight."
That aspiration takes an added impetus these days. The Cougars won their season-high 12th straight game with Friday's 9-1 victory against the LumberKings, strengthening their hold on the Midwest League and, well, affiliated baseball.
Kane County (85-45 overall, 40-20 second half) hasn't lost at home since July 28 and hasn't lost, period, since Peoria earned a 3-2 home victory Aug. 9.
Amid "Back to School" night at the ballpark, when the reformed troublemakers among the crowd of 8,229 surely pondered bygone "Kick Me" sign pranks, do the Cougars sense a more figurative target on their backs?
"Somewhat," first baseman Jacob Rogers said. "I mean, everybody gives us their best shot every day. We go out there and play hard no matter who we're facing, no matter if we think it's a great pitcher, a [top] overall pick or whatnot. Kind of just go out there and do your thing, make sure you have a great approach. Go roll out the ball pretty much. It's a little different than college. I mean, everybody's good here."
Including Rogers. He punctuated a six-run third with his team-leading 16th home run, a shot that cleared the right field Leinie Lodge.
He was the seventh of 12 Cougars to bat against Clinton (56-72, 26-34) in the inning.
"As for the other team, I'm not really sure what they're thinking, but yeah, we're 84-45 or something," right-hander James Pugliese said before the game. "I think that we're the team to beat if we win, and teams are going to come out and try to be on their A-game trying to beat us."
Players don't exactly concern themselves with that before first pitch, though. Friday began with the Cougars cycling a football and soccer ball around the field before batting practice started.
After that, the biggest clubhouse discussion hinged on which channel to tune the TV. With FXX's "The Simpsons" marathon unavailable on the provider and the Cubs' matinee against the Orioles completed, a small group settled for a time on the 2007 comedy "Good Luck Chuck."
Thanks, Dane Cook, but the Cougars have come this far without your karma.
"I think we're all just going out there, just playing," Pugliese said. "There's not much talk about baseball in here, as you can see. We're all just doing our thing, and then we go out there and just play baseball."
Every starter had at least one hit, with third baseman Jeimer Candelario and second baseman Danny Lockhart contributing three apiece and finishing a home run short of the cycle.
Catcher Cael Brockmeyer followed Rogers' homer with a third-inning shot of his own and, like Candelario, drove in two runs.
Lefty Tyler Ihrig earned the win witih six innings of seven-hit, one-run ball. Michael Heesch struck out three in two innings of relief before Jasvir Rakkar worked a perfect ninth for his ninth scoreless appearance in as many games.
"Hopefully, we can give them a good fight?" Perhaps when the series concludes at 6:30 p.m. today.