There were a couple of pitches that Cougars pitcher Duane Underwood would have liked to have back in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over South Bend, but aside from that, it was another in a long line of solid starts.
Underwood only went five innings thanks to an elevated pitch count, but he struck out seven, walked two and gave up three hits, including a pair of solo home runs to South Bend catcher Michael Perez. He improved to 5-2 this season, giving him seven straight appearances without a loss.
“He came out and threw the ball well,” Cougars manager Mark Johnson said. “He’s just gotten better and better. The ball is really coming off his fingers well. He’s got a good feel and he’s had a good presence on the mound.”
Perez hit his first home run for the Silver Hawks (59-41 overall, 19-12 second half) in the second to give them a brief lead. Kevin Brown got the run back in the bottom of the inning by singling in Jeimer Candelario.
Candelario struck again in the third to give the Cougars (65-36, 20-11) a 3-1 lead. With two outs, Jacob Rogers reached on an error to load the bases. Candelario then came through with a two-run single.
“That was huge,” Johnson said. “That’s what we need. We need to be able to do that. That’s what it’s going to take, different guys every night. We’ve done that all year.”
Perez struck again in the fifth before Underwood turned it over to the bullpen with a 3-2 lead.
“I had some things going early on, I was trying to slow down and get the ball down,” said Underwood, who was also battling a cold. “Lo and behold, two pitches were up. I paid for them. That’s fine, we still got the win.”
In the sixth, the Cougars added some insurance on RBI from Brown, who had three hits, and Shawon Dunston Jr.
South Bend had one more push left in the top of the eighth. With two outs and Gerardo Concepcion on for his third inning of relief, the Silver Hawks drew a pair of walks around a single to load the bases. But Concepcion struck out Stryker Trahan looking to end the threat.
“(Pitching coach David Rosario) went out there and had a good meeting with him and he turned the page and started being aggressive again, started pounding his fastball,” Johnson said. “It shows a lot of guts and confidence.”
Jose Arias came on to record his third save to finish it off.Tags: Kane County Cougars
Cougars 5, South Bend 2
Recap: Duane Underwood pitched five strong innings to improve to 5-2, Kevin Brown rapped three hits and the Cougars took advantage of some South Bend miscues to score three unearned runs in the win.
Cougars record: 65-36 overall, 20-11 second half
Up next: South Bend (Johnny Omahen 4-4) at Kane County (Jen-Ho Tseng 5-0), 6:30 p.m. Thursday, WBIG-AM (1280), (kccougars.com)