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Baseball: Cougars rally past Quad Cities 8-7

Kane County's Brian Smith throws pitch against Quad Cities River Bandits Fifth Third Bank BallPark GenevIL Friday July 5 2013

Kane County's Brian Smith throws a pitch against the Quad Cities River Bandits at Fifth Third Bank BallPark in Geneva, IL on Friday, July 5, 2013 | Sean King~For Sun-Times Media

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Cougars 8, Quad Cities 7

Recap: The Cougars blew a 3-2 lead, only to come back with a five-run eighth to get the win. Gioskar Amaya’s two-run bloop double proved to be the difference.

Cougars record: 34-47 overall, 4-11 second half

Up next: Quad Cities (Mike Hauschild 5-1) at Cougars (Jose Rosario 0-4), 6:30 p.m. Saturday, WBIG-AM (1280),

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Updated: August 8, 2013 7:10AM

Despite having just a 34-47 record this season, Cougars manager Mark Johnson never has questioned his team’s resolve.

It was on display once again in Friday night’s wild 8-7 win over Quad Cities, the Cougars’ second straight victory.

The Cougars blew a 2-1 lead, tied the game at 3, trailed 6-3 and responded with a five-run eighth before hanging on during a River Bandits’ rally in the ninth.

“How about that, huh?” Johnson said. “We’ve been really resilient offensively all year. You just can’t say enough about these guys and their will to win. Sometimes we’re just not putting things together to win games. But you can’t knock these guys for not trying. They compete their (rears) off.”

The Cougars (34-47 overall, 4-11 second half) held a 2-1 lead going into the sixth inning on Dan Vogelbach’s two-run home run in the first (Vogelbach has seven hits and seven RBI in his past three games) before Quad Cities (48-36 overall, 10-5 second half) scored twice to chase starter Brian Smith and take a 3-2 lead.

The lead was short-lived, however, as Albert Almora started the bottom of the sixth with his third home run to tie it at 3. Almora also tripled ahead of Vogelbach’s home run in the first.

“That was an impressive night by him,” Johnson said of Almora. “He’s got that spark that you really can’t teach.”

The game remained tied until reliever Lendy Castillo (2-5) allowed three runs in the top of the eighth to stake Quad Cities to a 6-3 lead.

The resiliency Johnson has come to expect rescued the Cougars in the bottom of the eighth. With the bases loaded, Marco Hernandez walked and Willson Contreras was hit by a pitch, making it 6-5. Giuseppe Papaccio, making his Cougars debut Friday, delivered a game-tying single off reliever John Neely (2-5). Gioskar Amaya’s two-run double gave the Cougars an 8-6 lead as 10 men came to the plate in the inning.

“It was awesome just to get a win in front of all of these people,” said Papaccio, the 18th-round selection of the Cubs who is the first 2013 draftee to play for the Cougars. “Being in rookie ball is a lot different. There are probably like five people out there. I’m surprised I didn’t have as many jitters as I usually do.”

Quad Cities scored a run in the ninth off Justin Amlung, but he closed the door for his first save.

Since Papaccio arrived from extended spring training before Thursday’s game, the Cougars are 2-0 against a Quad Cities team they were 2-11 against in the first 13 meetings.

“Two wins since I got here ... I hope we get a bunch more,” Papaccio said.

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