Jacob Rogers’ season hadn’t started the way he had wanted it to, but he hopes his performance Saturday gets him pointed in the right direction.
The Cougars’ first baseman entered the game hitting .161 in 31 at-bats but had two hits and four RBI — including a go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh — as the Cougars outlasted Lake County 9-8.
The win was the third straight for the Cougars, who sit atop the Midwest League’s Western Division with a 6-3 record.
Rogers’ heroics came at the perfect time as Lake County had taken advantage of three walks and two wild pitches from Scott Frazier to plate four runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 5-all.
After Will Remillard and Carlos Penalver walked to start the inning, the left-handed hitting Rogers deposited the first pitch he saw from Trevor Frank over the wall in left-center to give the Cougars an 8-5 lead.
“That was a huge hit,” Cougars manager Mark Johnson said. “After that inning, it was just so deflating, but he was the one who came in the dugout and said ‘Let’s go, we need to get back at it.’ And lo and behold, he came up and hit that big homer.”
Rogers, who was second in the Northwest League last year with 47 RBI, began the season with three hits in his first 22 at-bats. Since then he has hit two homers and driven in six runs, with hits in three of his last four games.
“I was looking for a good fastball,” Rogers said. “I saw he had been throwing a lot of sliders before me so I wanted to wait for my pitch. I was surprised by that pitch, but I was looking middle-away and he gave it to me.”
David Bote followed with a solo shot of his own to stretch the lead to four runs, and also marked the first time the Cougars hit back-to-back homers since July 31.
The Cougars survived an implosion on the part of the bullpen, which gave up seven runs in relief of starter Juan Paniaqua. But newcomer Josh Davis threw two innings and allowed one run to earn the win on his first day with the team. Davis was thrown into the mix quickly as he had arrived from Arizona just prior to the game.
“You don’t want to do that, but we were in a pinch with arms (Saturday),” Johnson said. “He did a good job.”
Another new pitcher, right-hander Duane Underwood, will make the start for the Cougars as they close out the six-game homestand at 1 p.m. Sunday.