Jeffrey Baez had a specific idea in his final at-bat for the Kane County Cougars Wednesday afternoon.
“I really focused on the pitches up in the strike zone,” Baez said.
The Cougars’ ninth-place hitter saw one to his liking and applied the coup de grace to the Burlington Bees at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva.
The center-fielder capped a five-run outburst with a two-run shot over the left-field fence in the bottom of the eighth inning to seal the Cougars’ 7-3 win.
It was not only the Cougars’ 10th consecutive win; Kane County (83-45, 38-20) captured its 50th victory at home this season in the process.
Burlington fell to 64-63 overall, 27-31 in the second half.
“It was a slider up over the plate,” Baez said of his two-out home run that scored Carlos Penalver in front of him.
“(The Cougars) have done an incredible job of picking up that clutch RBI the whole series,” Burlington manager Bill Richardson said after being swept in the three-game set.
Kane Country never led until two outs in its penultimate at-bat.
Jeimer Candelario and Yasiel Balaguert had back-to-back singles to lead off the Cougars’ eighth.
One out later, Cougars catcher Cael Brockmeyer roped a single up the middle to trump the last of the Bees’ three one-run leads.
“We definitely don’t hang our heads down, no matter what,” Brockmeyer said. “(Their pitcher) was trying to get a ground ball, turn a double play. I was trying to hit a line drive up the middle. I put a good piece of wood on it.”
Balaguert scored the go-ahead run on an errant infield throw as the Bees tried to turn an inning-ending double play.
“You have to make plays to win ballgames,” Richardson said.
Penalver gave Kane County a 5-3 lead moments later with a single to the right-center gap.
“It’s a fun atmosphere to be around daily,” Kane Country manager Mark Johnson said of the winning streak. “It’s a special thing. All year we have never given up.”
Mark Zagunis plated Baez with a run-scoring double for Kane County in its half of the second, and Danny Lockhart tied the game at 2-2 in the Cougars’ sixth with another two-out base hit.Tags: Kane County Cougars
Cougars 7, Burlington 3
Recap: Center fielder Jeffrey Baez capped a five-run inning with a two-run homer over the left-field fence in the bottom of the eighth inning to seal the win.
Cougars record: 83-45 overall, 38-20 second half.
Up next: Cougars (Jonathan Martinez, 9-5) vs. Clinton (Blake Holovach, 6-4) Thursday at 6:30 p.m. WBIG-AM (1280)