Minor League Baseball: Cougars carve away at seven-run deficit, but fall short to Peoria

Peoria 8, Cougars 5

Recap: Cougars starter Tyler Skulina didn’t get out of the first inning and Peoria built a 7-0 lead before the Cougars mounted a comeback. The lead was cut to 7-5 at one point, but Peoria was able to stop the Cougars’ five-game winning streak.

Cougars record: 54-28 overall, 9-3 second half

Up next: Peoria (Chase Brookshire 2-3) at Kane County (Daury Torrez 8-3), 6:30 p.m. Thursday, WBIG-AM (1280), (kccougars.com)

The Kane County Cougars’ penchant for comeback wins and making sure that opponents’ wins aren’t comfortable is apparently well-known across the Midwest League.

Though the Cougars dropped a rare home contest to Peoria Wednesday, 8-5, they took a seven-run deficit and cut it to two, and the Chiefs took notice.

“The first baseman from the other team (Justin Ringo) turned to me when we were coming back and I was on first and was like, ‘Hey man, you guys just don’t give up, do you?’ ” Cougars outfielder Jake Hannemann said. “No, we don’t. We have a lot of heart.”

Peoria (46-36 overall, 9-4 first half) jumped out quickly. The Chiefs plated three runs in the first inning after a half-hour rain delay, chasing Cougars starter Tyler Skulina (4-4) in the process. A two-run double from Luis Perez keyed the rally.

In the second, the Chiefs were at it again with three more runs. Robelys Reyes and CJ McElroy had RBI singles in that rally.

The lead was 7-0 in the bottom of the sixth before the Cougars (54-28 overall, 9-3 second half) got on the board. Highly touted 19-year-old Peoria starter Alex Reyes had a lot to do with it. He allowed two hits and struck out 10 in his five innings, although he also walked seven and committed two balks.

“I think that was the thing, he was all over the place,” Hannemann said. “Me personally, I swung at pitches I didn’t want to that I normally would. He threw us off.”

But once the Cougars got to the Chiefs’ bullpen, the tide started to turn. The Cougars scored three runs in the sixth, all coming with two outs. Hannemann doubled in David Bote and scored on a Ben Carhart single. Yasiel Balaguert singled in Carhart.

In the seventh, the Cougars scored two more to cut the lead to 7-5. Jacob Rogers and Will Remillard drew walks to lead off the inning and both of them scored. Bote and Hannemann provided the RBI singles.

Cael Brockmeyer drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth with the Cougars down 8-5, but he was stranded there to end the game.

“We knew we were going to battle back,” Hannemann said. “We had a rough couple innings, both on defense and offense. We knew the bats were going to come, and they did. We just didn’t finish at the end.”