EASTLAKE, OH – The Kane County Cougars showed that they were the top team in the Midwest League on Saturday night. They swept the Lake County Captains in three games by a final score of 7-2 to become the 2014 Midwest League Champions.
“Kane County played better in all facets of the game. They flat out beat us in all three games. They put pressure on you everywhere. They played well from start-to-finish,” said Mark Budzinski on the Cougars.
The Captains opened the first inning with back-to-back hits. Shortstop Ivan Castillo lined a single to left field and center fielder Clint Frazier doubled into the right center field gap. Castillo scored easily but Frazier was thrown out going to third base.
Kane County tied the game in the top of the second. First baseman Jacob Rogers led off with a walk and advanced to third on a single deflected off the pitcher Anderson Polanco. Carlos Penalver doubled down the right field line, scoring Rogers from third.
One inning later, the Cougars jumped out in front by two runs 3-1. Third baseman Jeimer Candelario singled and came around to score on a two-run blast by Rogers.
Polanco pitched into the fifth inning as the Captains walked the tightrope. Candelario singled with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Right fielder Yasiel Balaguert singled to move Candelario to third base. Captains manager Mark Budzinski hooked Polanco and brought in reliever Robbie Aviles.
Rogers singled home Candelario for his third RBI of the night. Catcher Cael Brockmeyer singled to load the bases with one out and Aviles escaped further damage with a double play. Kane County led 4-1 at the halfway point.
Polanco took the loss, with four runs allowed in four and one third innings on seven hits. He walked two and fanned five.
With a three run lead, the Cougars doubled the lead to six with a three-spot in the sixth inning. Penalver reached on an infield single and moved to third on a fielding error by third baseman Paul Hendrix. Deisgnated hitter Mark Zagunis singled home Penalver. Dunston, the runner that reached on Hendrix’s error, went to third on a caught stealing error by Hendrix. Candelario plated Dunston with a sacrifice fly to left field.
Justin Brantley entered in relief and gave up a RBI single to Balaguert. Aviles allowed three unearned runs on four hits in one and one third innings.
The Captains broke the seven run unanswered streak with a run in the seventh inning. Left fielder Dorssys Paulino singled and went to second on a wild pitch. Designated hitter Brian Ruiz singled home Paulino for the 7-2 score.
Heesch gave up one run in three innings on two hits. Francisco Carillo pitched a scoreless ninth inning to lock Kane County’s first championship since 2001.
Ivan Castillo had two hits as the Captains were outhit 15-7.
“I was extremely proud of the way this team improved from the beginning of the season. Everyone learned a lot throughout the journey,” said Budzinski on his team.
2015 Opening Day will take place on April 10th in Lansing.