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Midwest League: Cougars fall short of playoffs

Updated: October 5, 2012 6:16AM

The Kane County Cougars had spent the last couple of weeks trying to grind their way into the Midwest League playoffs, and in the final game of the season fell one rally short.

Trying to do their part by sweeping the Chiefs in the final three games of the season to put Burlington in a must-win situation Monday, the Cougars instead saw their season end on the short end of a 6-2 loss. The Cougars finish the second half of the season with a 34-36 record and completed the 140-game schedule with a 68-72 mark.

The Cougars needed Burlington to lose both ends of a doubleheader Monday against Wisconsin, and the Bees did their part by losing game one. By virtue of the Cougars loss the Bees, managed by former Cougars skipper Aaron Nieckula, earned the second-half wild card spot while Kane County fails to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2007.

“We just came up short,” Cougars manager Buck Buchanan said. “You couldn’t ask any more from these guys over the last two or three weeks. I told the guys they did all they could do and they competed, I was proud of them.”

After falling behind 5-0 after four innings, the Cougars closed the gap to 5-2 on a Kenny Swab two-run homer in the sixth. But big hits were otherwise hard to come by as the Cougars left 12 runners stranded on the day, including seven in scoring position.

The Cougars loaded the bases with no outs in the third and came away empty, and also loaded them up in the seventh with two outs, but saw that rally die when Alex Llanos flied out to the warning track in left field.

“We had the opportunities,” said second baseman Justin Trapp, who hit .341 over his last 10 games. “Not only (Monday) but in games in the last couple of weeks where it came down to the wire and we lost close ones. We battled hard and kept going, and hopefully next year we can make another run and get there.”

Mike Giovenco, making his second spot start after pitching five scoreless innings Thursday in Quad Cities, was tagged for five runs in 4 1/3 innings and finishes the year with a 5-3 record.

The Cougars will open the 2013 season April 4 at home against Quad Cities.

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