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Minor League Baseball: Daury Torrez sparkles on the mound as Cougars blank Beloit

One of the strengths of the Cougars this season has been in their pitching, and very quietly Daury Torrez has become its anchor.

The 21-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic was on top of his game again Thursday when he took the mound against Wisconsin, tossing eight scoreless innings as the Cougars took two of three in the series with a 5-0 win.

Torrez, the only Cougar pitcher to get through eight innings in a game this season, scattered five hits and struck out seven while throwing 12 ground ball outs. That was good enough to earn his eighth win of the year, tops in the Midwest League.

Working quickly, he never faced more than four Timber Rattlers in an inning, which was a big reason why the game was played in a brisk two hours, 17 minutes.

“Every night what you know you are going to get from Torrez is that he throws strikes,” Cougars catcher Ben Carhart said. “Everything was for a strike, and he was hitting both sides of the plate. His sinker was unbelievable, which was the difference.”

The workhorse of the staff, he is tied with Paul Blackburn for the team lead with 14 starts, paces the staff in innings pitched (80 1/3) and quality starts (seven) and hasn’t allowed a run in 13 innings in his two second half outings.

The Cougars got the only run they would need in the bottom of the first when Jacob Hannemann singled and took second on an error to lead off the inning and then took third on a bizarre play where Wisconsin gathered for a conference on the mound and never called time. He later came home on an RBI groundout by Kyle Schwarber that gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead.

The run was the result of hustle and heads-up baserunning, as the sequence started with Hannemann going hard out of the box and taking advantage of Wisconsin center fielder Johnny Davis’ bobble and less-than-enthusiastic throw back to the infield.

“That’s having awareness,” Johnson said. “As an organization we try to preach putting pressure on the defense and taking the extra base, even if sometimes you are wrong. That just set the tone (for the game).”

Schwarber had two hits to raise his average to .455 with the Cougars, and is hitting .523 (22-for-42) with hits in each of his 12 professional games. Carhart and Jacob Rogers added two hits and an RBI apiece, while Trey Martin adding a two-run double in the sixth.

After winning just 55 games all of last season, the win gave the Cougars 50 victories in 2014 and they joined Portland and Huntsville, members of the Class AA Eastern and Southern Leagues, respectively, as the only teams in professional baseball to reach the 50-win plateau so far this season. The Cougars, who start a four-game series in Beloit Friday, are 33-9 and have yet to lose a series at home.

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