Minor League Baseball: Cougars Get 21 Hits But Fall To Snappers In 12 Innings

The view from the press box at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva, IL

The Kane County Cougars got a dramatic, game-tying home run from Orlando Calixte in the ninth inning, but the Beloit Snappers outlasted the Cougars, scoring six runs in the 12th inning to clinch a 15-9 victory Monday at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.

The Snappers’ outburst in the final inning came off first baseman turned pitcher Dean Espy. The right-handed Espy (0-1) entered the game as a pinch runner in the ninth and played first base for two innings before taking the mound in the 12th. It was his first time pitching in the minor leagues.

“We needed to save some pitching for tomorrow,” Cougars manager Brian Buchanan said. “When they took the lead, we took some guys out early because we needed them for tomorrow. Then we ended up tying it up in the ninth.”

Matt Koch gave the Snappers a 10-9 lead in the 12th with an RBI double that drove in Jhon Goncalves. After an RBI single by Tyler Grimes and a sacrifice fly by Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano capped off the scoring with a three-run homer that bounced off the video board in left-center field.

The Snappers (30-21) blew three leads in the first nine innings, including the 9-7 advantage they held going into the ninth.

After Michael Antonio led off the bottom of the ninth for the Cougars with a double to left center field, Calixte launched a game-tying, two-run homer to tie the game at 9-9. It was the 20-year-old shortstop’s third home run in the last five games.

“He’s getting good pitches to hit, and he’s hitting them,” Buchanan said. “We’re working with him, he needs to stay under control a little bit, and he’s been doing that lately.”

The Cougars (27-24) had a great chance to end the game later in the ninth after an error by Sano, the Snappers’ third baseman, allowed Jorge Bonifacio to bat with the bases loaded and two outs. But the 18-year-old right fielder struck out, sending the game into extra innings.

The Cougars offense took advantage of perfect hitting conditions — temperatures in the 90s and winds blowing out — by racking up 21 hits. All nine starters picked up a hit and seven had two or more. Catcher Kenny Swab had three hits, while Antonio and Calixte each had four.

“Hitting is contagious. You see some of the other guys up there swinging the bat really well and you’re itching for your opportunity to get up there,” Swab said. “The ball was just jumping off the bat today.”

Losing two of the first three games in this series, Kane County has fallen three games behind second-place Beloit. The Cougars will try to split the four-game series tomorrow at 11 a.m with right-hander Kellen Moen (2-2) on the mound.

I wrote this story for the Aurora Beacon. It appears here.

PROSPECT WATCH:

Twins 3B Miguel Sano: 1-7, HR, 3 RBI; Crushed a three-run homer in the 12th inning off a position player posing as a pitcher. Made what could have been a devastating error in the 9th inning (19th error of season). Booted a seemingly routine grounder with two outs, extended the game for Jorge Bonifacio to bat with the bases loaded. Great swing, physically (6’3″, 240 lbs) stands out among peers.

Royals RF Jorge Bonifacio: 2-7, 2 singles, run, 4 Ks; Struck out with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning. Left seven men on base over his seven ABs. Got first hit of series in third inning (was 0-for-9 going into at-bat). Batting .312, second on team.

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