Kane County no-hits Quad Cities in Peoria

Three Kane County Cougars pitchers combined to no-hit the Quad Cities River Bandits on Friday — at Dozer Park, home of the Peoria Chiefs.

The “home” series for the River Bandits is being played in Peoria because river flooding created ongoing access problems to Modern Woodmen Park, and the Chiefs are on the road for an away series vs. the Burlington Bees. The River Bandits have yet to play a game at their home ballpark this season.

The no-hitter is the 10th pitched by Kane County hurlers. Bryan Valdez pitched the first four innings, Andy Toelken pitched the next 4.2 innings, and Blake Workman struck out the final batter of the game.

The Cougars took a perfect game into the 7th inning, but lost it when Toelken walked the second batter of the frame. Toelken issued all three walks given up by the Cougars; his third walk, with two outs in the 9th inning, led to Workman coming into the game. Toelken got the win and Workman got a save for retiring the only batter he faced.

Cougars third baseman Alex King drove in the game’s only run on a 7th-inning double that plated Eduardo Diaz.


Posted in Burlington Bees, Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment

Benson’s four-homer game highlights notable night in MWL

Lake County Captains OF Will Benson swings during last year’s Midwest League Home Run Derby. He finished second in the contest. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

There were several notable performances in the Midwest League on Thursday, with a four-homer game by Lake County Captains outfielder Will Benson chief among them.

Benson’s four roundtrippers (a grand slam, a two-run homer, and two solo shots) in Lake County’s 12-6 win over the South Bend Cubs tied a Midwest League record first set by Bobby Smith of the Clinton Pirates on June 13, 1959. The record was matched in the regular season by Michael Bishop of the Quad City Angels on June 24, 1978, and Garret Jones of the Quad City River Bandits on July 14, 2002, and in the postseason by Eric Battersby of the Burlington Bees on Sept. 13, 1999. As you can see by the dates, Benson’s four-homer performance was the earliest in the year the feat has been achieved in the MWL.

Before Thursday, the most recent four-homer performance in the minor leagues was by Mike Ford, who did it for the Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League) on May 25, 2014. Coincidentally, Ford made his major-league debut for the New York Yankees on Thursday. (He went o-for-3 with a walk.)

Benson struck out in his fifth and final at-bat of Thursday’s game. The last time a minor-leaguer homered five times in a game was July 3, 1948, when Muskegon Clippers outfielder Dick Lane did it against the Fort Wayne Generals in a Central League game. (In addition to Fort Wayne, the six-team Central League also had clubs based in Dayton and Grand Rapids; those three cities, of course, currently have Midwest League teams.) The all-time record is eight homers in a single game, achieved by Nig Clarke in a 1902 Texas League game.

Benson is batting .341 (15-for-44) with 6 HR and 16 RBI in 12 games with the Captains this season. The Cleveland Indians prospect also played for Lake County last year, batting .180 with 22 HR and 58 RBI in 123 games. He participated in last year’s Midwest League Home Run Derby, finishing second to Bowling Green Hot Rods catcher Ronaldo Hernandez.

Gold cycles for Lansing

Lugnuts catcher Ryan Gold hit for the cycle in Lansing’s 12-4 win over the Dayton Dragons. He hit a grand slam for the home run, and collected seven RBI.

You can read about Gold’s achievement here.

Gold is batting .250 (8-for-32) in 10 games this season. He also played for the Lugnuts last season, batting .264 in 56 games.

Soriano keeps QC hitless

Cougars starting pitcher Franklyn Soriano didn’t allow a hit during his five innings in Kane County’s 2-0 win over the Quad Cities River Bandits. He struck out four, walked one, and hit a batter.

Soriano got the win, improving to 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 14.2 innings/three starts for the Cougars this season.

River Bandits RHP R.J. Freure struck out nine, walked two, and gave up one hit in 3.2 innings of relief. He got a no-decision. He is 1-0 with a 0.87 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 10.1 innings this season.

Almost no-hit, but Bees win

The Chiefs took a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Bees, but Burlington made the most of their late offense to beat Peoria 4-3.

Despite keeping Bees batters hitless for so long, Chiefs pitchers struggled with control early and late in the game, issuing 10 walks total. Chiefs SP Cole Aker walked five, including one with the bases loaded, and was removed after two-thirds of an inning. A bright spot for the Chiefs was reliever Freddy Pacheco, who struck out seven in three perfect innings.

Bees shortstop Livan Soto broke up the no-hitter with a double with one man on and no outs in the 8th. Third baseman Kevin Maitan drove in the winning run via a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 9th inning.

Posted in 2018 All-Star Game, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Burlington Bees, Charleston RiverDogs, Clinton LumberKings, Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits, South Atlantic League, South Bend Silver Hawks, Texas League, West Michigan Whitecaps | Leave a comment

Cubs’ Montgomery looks sharp in South Bend rehab start

Chicago Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery looked sharp in his two-inning rehab start for South Bend on Wednesday. (Photo by Rikk Carlson)

Chicago Cubs LHP Mike Montgomery looked sharp in his rehab start for South Bend on Wednesday.

The Cubs reliever allowed only one hit while striking out four batters and walking none in two innings. South Bend beat the Great Lakes Loons 2-1.

Montgomery is on the injured list with a mild left lat strain. He originally was scheduled to make his rehab appearance on Tuesday, but it got pushed back a day after his wife gave birth to their baby boy in Chicago.

Montgomery previously pitched in the Midwest League as a Kansas City Royals minor-leaguer. He went 2-3 with a 2.17 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 24 walks in 58 innings/12 starts for the 2009 Burlington Bees.

Posted in Burlington Bees, Great Lakes Loons, Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

Gorman, Parsons named Midwest League players of the week

Peoria Chiefs 3B Nolan Gorman (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

A pair of Peoria Chiefs were named the first Midwest League players of the week for the 2019 season.

Third baseman Nolan Gorman, a top St. Louis Cardinals prospect, was named the MWL offensive player of the week thanks to his hot start that includes a .395 batting average (15-for-38), four homers, four doubles, one triple, 13 RBI and 10 runs scored in 10 games.

Gorman was one of the players I wrote about in my season preview about top prospects to watch in the MWL’s Western Division. You can read that here, and my post about top Eastern Division prospects here.

Righthander Tommy Parsons was named the MWL pitcher of the week after posting 13 scoreless innings in his first two starts of the season. He struck out nine batters while allowing only five hits and two walks.

Hulsizer goes deep thrice

Great Lakes Loons outfielder Niko Hulsizer blasted three home runs against the South Bend Cubs on Monday. His four RBI weren’t enough for the Loons to beat the Cubs, who won 6-5.

Gray’s perfect outing wasted

Los Angeles Dodgers pitching prospect Josiah Gray threw five perfect innings for Great Lakes on Thursday, but South Bend batters got to the bullpen later in the game to give the Cubs a 2-1 win. Gray struck out five.

It was the righthander’s second start of the season. In his first start, against the Lake County Captains on April 6, he gave up one run on two hits and two walks while striking out six in 4.2 innings.

Posted in Great Lakes Loons, Lake County Captains, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, South Bend Silver Hawks | Leave a comment

Ex-Kernels pitcher Nick Adenhart died 10 years ago today

Nick Adenhart pitched for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2006, three years before his tragic death at age 22. (Photo from MiLB.com)

Tuesday is the 10th anniversary of when former Cedar Rapids Kernels pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver just hours after pitching six scoreless innings in his fourth MLB start for the Los Angeles Angels. Two of his friends also died in the accident, and a third one survived despite suffering life-threatening injuries.

Adenhart was 22 years old and full of potential, projected to be a mainstay of the Angels pitching staff for years to come. I recommend reading this story by Los Angeles Times sports scribe Mike DiGiovanna reflecting on the event and its effects still felt a decade later.

The tragedy occurred just three years after Adenhart had a memorable season for the Kernels. The then-19-year-old righty went 10-2 with a 1.95 ERA, 99 strikeouts and 26 walks in 106 innings/16 starts for the 2006 team before the Angels promoted him to High-A for the rest of the season. He also was the starting pitcher for the U.S. team in that year’s Futures Game.

Adenhart is still remembered in Cedar Rapids today. The Adenhart family and the Kernels Foundation have awarded $1,000 scholarships in Nick’s memory since 2011. The Kernels also retired his jersey number 21.

Posted in Cedar Rapids Kernels, Midwest League | Leave a comment