Five-Run Seventh Dooms Dogs, Cougars Win 7-2
By Jack Ankony, The Chicago Dogs
With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, it was up to Michael Crouse to come through for the Dogs.
The Dogs were trailing 2-0 and had managed just two hits to this point, but Crouse kept his head down on a slider on the outside corner and ripped it up the middle. As the ball landed before Anfernee Seymour’s feet, two Dogs came around to tie the game at two runs apiece.
Dogs manager Butch Hobson said before this clutch RBI single, the Dogs were swinging too hard and trying to do too much at the plate instead of working the count. But the Dogs weren’t able to capitalize on this base knock from Crouse, as a five-run 8th inning allowed Kane County to emerge with a 7-2 win.
While the Dogs fell victim to the Cougars late in the game for the second straight night, a promising start from Jonathon Crawford was an important sign. Crawford pitched his longest outing of the season as he allowed seven hits, two earned runs, three walks and seven strikeouts across 5.1 innings.
After struggling with control at times early in the year, Hobson said the biggest different for Crawford tonight was his ability to command the strike zone. Crawford was blowing his 94 mile-an-hour fastball by hitters on a consistent basis on Friday and mixing in his offspeed effectively.
Crawford, a first round pick out of Florida by the Detroit Tigers in the 2013 MLB Draft, showed command of not only his fastball, but his curveball, changeup and slider. After appearing out of the bullpen to begin the season, Crawford has worked his way up into a starting role thanks to steady progress from start to start.
Crawford’s ability to command four different pitches is a big advantage as a starter in this league because his approach is less predictable to hitters. Compared to past starts, Hobson said Crawford was able to pitch deep into Friday’s game because he got ahead of hitters early in the count.
“I’m really happy for him,” Hobson said. “He’s worked really hard at it.”
Crawford exited Friday’s game with his best start of the season, but it wasn’t enough to propel to the Dogs to a win as they fell to the Kane County Cougars for the second night in a row. Tomorrow’s starter is AJ Jones, who will make the second start of his professional career.
In order to avoid a series loss, Hobson said it will be important for Jones to put himself in position to use his changeup and for the Dogs offense to have a more productive night at the plate. And for an experienced Dogs roster, it’s all about what tomorrow holds.
“You dwell on it for about 30 minutes and then it’s over because you can’t do anything about it,” Hobson said.