Kane County Cougars take Game One of MWL Championship


In the opening bout of the Midwest League Championship, the Kane County Cougars, the Chicago Cubs’ Class-A affiliate, took down the Lake County Captains, the Class-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians by a 4-3 final in front of a packed crowd at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva Wednesday night.

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All seven of the combined runs were tallied in the first two innings of play and a 1-2-3 ninth inning by right-hander Francisco Carrillo sealed the deal and sent Kane County to victory in the opener of the best-of-five series.

Jen-Ho Tseng took the hill for the Cougars and pitched well enough to keep the Captains at bay. In five innings of work, he allowed two earned – three total runs – on six hits, striking out eight. His counterpart, Mitch Brown, allowed four runs – three earned – on four hits in just two innings of work. The Captains bullpen pitched the remainder of the contest and did not surrender a run, matching the Cougars’ relief corps blow for blow.

After Shawon Dunston singled to lead things off in the bottom of the first inning, the Kane County designated hitter Mark Zagunis clubbed a two-run home run to pull the Cougars back ahead of the Captains, 2-1. Lake Captain answered back in the top of the second inning when Claudio Bautista followed a pair of singles and an error by shortstop Carlos Penalver, driving in a pair of runs. With nobody out in the inning, the Captains appeared poised to break the game wide open, but Tseng tightroped his way out of the inning, retiring Ivan Castillo on a pop out, Clint Frazier on a strikeout and Nellie Rodriguez via a ground out.

Trailing 3-2, the Cougars kept up the pattern of trading blows, scoring what proved to be the final two runs of the ballgame in just the bottom of the second inning. Trey Martin drew a one-out walk for the home team, promptly stealing second base. He then advanced to third on an errant pickoff attempt by Brown, then scoring on an RBI single by Dunston.

The speedy Dunston followed with a stolen base of his own, advancing to third when Jeimer Candelario reached on another throwing error by Brown. A third error in the frame allowed Dunston to score from third, giving Kane County a 4-3 advantage it would not relinquish for the remainder of the contest.

Dunston led the Cougars offensively with three base hits, an RBI and two runs in the win.

Both clubs entered the Championship Series with a 4-0 mark in postseason play. The two teams will meet again on Thursday night in Geneva for Game Two.