Kane County Cougars
The Kane County Cougars advanced to the Midwest League Championship Series with a 4-2 win over the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Twins). The Cougars win the best-of-three series two games to none.
Starter Paul Blackburn was flat-out terrific tonight. He pitched five innings and allowed only one baserunner, a single in the third inning. That runner was caught stealing, so he faced the minimum. Blackburn struck out seven.
Tyler Ihrig relieved Blackburn in the sixth inning, but after the Cougars took the lead in the bottom of the sixth, Ihrig coughed the lead back up when he gave up a two-run home run in the top of the seventh to the Kernels Chad Christensen. But he ended up getting the win when the Cougars scored in the seventh and eighth innings. Ihrig's final line was 3.1 innings, allowing two runs on three hits. He had neither a walk nor a strikeout.
Francisco Carrillo relieved Ihrig in the top of the ninth with a man on second and one out. He struck out the next two batters to end the game.
The Cougars took the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning on an opposite field solo home run by first baseman Jacob Rogers. Rogers was 1 for 4.
After the Kernels took the lead in the top of the seventh on a two-run home run, shortstop Carlos Penalver (of all people) answered with a two-run home run of his own to give the Cougars the lead for good. Penalver only hit one home run in each of the past two regular seasons. (And only three total in his minor league career, including the Dominican Summer League.) Penalver was 3 for 4.
The Cougars tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning when second baseman Chesny Young singled home Jeffrey Baez. Both hitters were 1 for 3 with a walk on the game.
They will start the best-of-five Championship Round against the Lake County Captains on Wednesday at Fifth Third Bank Park Ballpark in Geneva.
The Cougars won the Midwest League Championship once in their history as a Marlins affiliate in 2001. That series was not played to completion, however, as the Cougars were awarded the title after leading the championship series 1 game to 0 on September 11.
No Cubs affiliate has won the Midwest League since the Quad Cities Cubs did in 1979. UPDATE: Except for the 2003 Lansing Lugnuts. I regret the error.
Game Four of the Florida State League Championship Series between the Daytona Cubs and the Ft. Myers Miracle was rained out. They'll try to play again tomorrow night in Daytona Beach.