For only the second time since he pitched for the Cougars in 1996, Ryan Dempster was back at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
Despite all of the changes to the park in the 18 years since he toed the rubber, he recalled his first start of the Cougars.
“They put rope down the third base line and first base line and they put seats on the field,” Dempster said. “There were like 14,000 people here. I came from Charleston and we were averaging like 3,500 a game. I thought I got called to the big leagues. It’s cool to see that 18 years later it’s still going as strong as ever, if not stronger.”
Dempster arrived in the midst of one of the best winning streaks in team history, a streak that was extended Friday with a 9-1 win over Clinton. It was the 12th straight win for the Cougars, the team-record 52nd home win and the 85th overall win.
The Cougars (85-45 overall, 40-20 second half) are three wins shy of the franchise record for wins with 10 games left in the regular season. Saturday, the Cougars will go for their 10th home sweep of the season.
“The record speaks for itself,” said first baseman Jacob Rogers, who belted high team-best 16th home run over the right field deck as part of a six-run third inning. “You don’t really think about (the streak). You just have to go out and play your game. You can’t live in the past.”
Dempster spent plenty of time reminiscing about his time with the Cougars and his 14-year career, which was capped off by winning the World Series with Boston last year. He said that “I don’t think there’s much of a chance” of a comeback.
Dempster was in town to celebrate the Cougars’ relationship with his Dempster Family Foundation. The Cougars donated a portion of their July in-game proceeds to the charity with a pregame check presentation.
In retirement, Dempster has found more time to become more involved with the foundation.
“It’s a great thing to have something so close to Chicago (Dempster pitched for the Cubs for nine seasons), at a place I have a direct connection with,” Dempster said. “There are thousands of charities they could give their money to. To give it to the Dempster Foundation is awesome.”
Rogers and Cael Brockmeyer hit back-to-back home runs to cap the six-run third inning Friday. Jeimer Candelario and Danny Lockhart each had three hits. Tyler Ihrig (2-1) went six innings, allowing a run on seven hits, walking none and striking out six.Tags: Kane County Cougars
Cougars 9, Clinton 1
Recap: A six-run third inning and six solid innings from starter Tyler Ihrig carried the Cougars to their 12th straight win and team-record 52nd win at home. Jeimer Candelario and Danny Lockhart each had three hits and Jacob Rogers belted his team-high 16th home run over the right field deck.
Cougars record: 85-45 overall, 40-20 second half
Up next: Clinton (Edwin Diaz 5-7) at Kane County (Daury Torrez 11-5), 6:30 p.m. Saturday, WBIG-AM (1280), (kccougars.com)