Cougars finish with 91 wins; playoffs next
Despite falling to the Peoria Chiefs in the finale Monday, the Kane County Cougars (91-49) finished the regular season with the best record in all of minor-league baseball and the best record in Cougars franchise history.
Peoria (35-35, 72-67) edged the Cougars 6-5 in 12 innings at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
Jasvir Rakkar was the sixth pitcher used in the game as he allowed Vaughn Bryan, who reached on a leadoff walk, to score on a wild pitch in the top of the 12th. The Cougars put the leadoff man on in the final three innings but weren't able to cash in.
The game did not affect the postseason setup in the Western Division, but a couple of Peoria hitters took advantage of their final at-bats. Two Chiefs were a certain hit away from the cycle as Luis Perez and Richy Pedroza boosted their batting averages on the final day.
Pedroza singled, doubled and homered in his first 3 at-bats and was inches away from a triple in his fourth plate appearance. His flyball hit the base of the right-field wall, allowing a chance for the speedy infielder to reach third, but Yasiel Balaguert's throw from right field made it in time to deny Pedroza of the cycle.
Peoria overcame a 3-run deficit as the Cougars' biggest inning came in the first. Mark Zagunis doubled to start the offense and Chesny Young reached on an error to put runners at the corners. Jeimer Candelario hit a dribbler down the first-base line that Peoria starter Rob Kaminsky gloved, but he hit Candelario on his throw home, allowing Zagunis to score.
Yasiel Balguert and Cael Brockmeyer followed with back-to-back RBI singles for a 3-0 Cougars lead.
The postseason begins Wednesday for the Cougars against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in Appleton, Wisconsin. Jen-Ho Tseng (6-1, 2.40) will start Game 1 for the Cougars against Wisconsin left-hander Clint Terry (3-5, 2.49). First pitch from Fox Cities Stadium is 6:35 p.m.