The Kane County Cougars have clinched a postseason spot in the 2015 Midwest League Playoffs and are ready to defend the 2014 MWL crown as the playoff’s opening round begins Wednesday, Sept. 9.
The minor league affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks have now won a franchise-best 48 games in the second half of the season, breaking the previous record of 47 wins by the 2001 Midwest League championship squad.
The minor league affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks will open the 2015 Midwest League Playoffs on Wednesday evening against the Peoria Chiefs, a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate. The Cougars team departs Tuesday evening for Peoria as the best-of-three series opens on the road at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Dozer Park. Game 2 will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark and a third “if necessary” game would also take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday here in Geneva.
Playoff tickets are available by calling (630) 232-8811 or ordering online by clicking HERE. The Cougars currently have a $5 special that includes a reserved seat ticket and hot dog. Also, all beers and sodas are just $1.
The Cougars will be looking to defend the 2014 Midwest League Championship and are vying for their third league championship in franchise history. This marks the 15th playoff appearance in the 25-year history of the Cougars franchise.
This season’s team, led by former Major Leaguer and first-year manager Mark Grudzielanek, compiled a regular season record of 84-54. The 84 wins were the third-highest total in club history, and the team won the Western Division second half title with a 48-22 record — the most wins in one half of a season in Cougars history.
This is a fun team to watch.
Offensively under hitting coach Vince Harrison, the Cougars broke the franchise record for highest team batting average with a .275 mark (first in the MWL), breaking the record held by the 2001 Midwest League champion Cougars squad. Infielder Ildemaro Vargas was the MWL batting champion with a .321 average — good for fourth all-time on the franchise single-season list. Infielder Marty Herum led the league with 155 hits, placing him fifth on the single-season franchise list. Herum’s 79 RBI was the highest output since 2006 league MVP Jeff Baisley. Outfielder Colin Bray’s 151 hits was second-best in the league and he now holds the eighth-highest hits total in Cougars history.
Under pitching coach Doug Bochtler, Cougars pitchers recorded a team ERA of 3.10, second-best in the league behind Quad Cities and second all-time in franchise history behind the 2014 squad. Closer Zac Curtis solidified his name in the Cougars’ record book by setting a franchise record for most saves in a season with 33. Curtis led all of Minor League Baseball in that category. Pitchers Ethan Elias and Nick Baker became the first Cougars duo since 2007 to record 10 or more wins in a single season. Pitcher Jency Solis led the league with 21 holds and starting pitcher Brad Keller’s 2.60 ERA was fourth in the league.
This season, the Cougars went 9-7 against the Chiefs including a three-game series win over the recent Labor Day weekend. This marks the first time since 2004 that the Cougars and Chiefs have met in the postseason. If the Cougars were to advance into the divisional championship round, they would face the winner of the Quad Cities/Cedar Rapids series in a best-of-three game series.
Midwest League Playoffs – First Round
- Wednesday, Sept. 9 – Cougars at Peoria, 6:30 PM (WBIG 1280 AM or kccougars.com)
- Thursday, Sept.10 – Peoria at Cougars, 6:30 PM (WBIG 1280 AM or kccougars.com)
- Friday, Sept. 11 * – Peoria at Cougars, 6:30 PM (WBIG 1280 AM or kccougars.com)
* if necessarySOURCE: Kane County Cougars press release