Cougars Homestand Preview, News and Notes

Wednesday 7/4
Quad Cities River Bandits (St. Louis Cardinals farm team)
6:30 p.m. (gates open at 5:15 p.m.)            WBIG 1280 AM (6:15 p.m.)

Independence Day Holiday Picnic (reservations required)
Weeknight Special – Winning Wednesday Scratch Cards for the first 1,500 adults 21 and over
Pre-game autograph session with Cougars players
Color Guard – Fox Valley Marines
National Anthem – Tony Gordon
In-game entertainment by Myron Noodleman
Post-game performance by the Jesse White Tumblers
Post-game fireworks show (Patriotic theme)
Fans can run the bases after the game

Thursday 7/5
Quad Cities River Bandits
6:30 p.m. (gates open at 5:30 p.m.)            WBIG 1280 AM (6:15 p.m.)

Facebook Night
Pre-game performance and National Anthem by Indian Trail Junior High Summer Band
In-game entertainment by the ZOOperstars!
Post-game fireworks show (Popular Music theme as chosen by Facebook fans)
Fans can run the bases after the game

Friday 7/6
Quad Cities River Bandits
6:30 p.m. (gates open at 5:15 p.m.)            WBIG 1280 AM (6:15 p.m.)
                Military Appreciation Night
Pre-game parade for active duty and veterans who have served
National Anthem – Ann Williams
Dog tags for the first 1,500 fans, courtesy of Fifth Third Bank
Post-game fireworks show (Patriotic theme)
Fans can run the bases after the game

Homestand Notes

Fourth of July Fun: The Cougars will light up the skies for three straight nights with post-game fireworks shows. The first will take place on July 4th and will be a patriotic-themed show. Cougars fans can also take part in a pre-game autograph session with the team, who will wear commemorative patriotic jerseys. Myron Noodleman will be on hand to entertain that evening, and fans can run the bases after the game.

Facebook Night: The July 5th game is Facebook Night, as Cougars Facebook fans have voted on a series of events that have formed part of the game for Thursday. Fans have voted on a Popular Music-themed fireworks show, as well as having Cougars players wear patriotic jerseys that evening. Select Facebook fans will also throw ceremonial first pitches as well as receive other exclusive offers.

Military Appreciation Night: The Cougars will be honoring all active duty and veteran military personnel at this Friday’s game. Active duty military receive free admission for themselves along with family members. Veterans can also receive free tickets for that evening’s game by registering at www.vettix.org. All active duty and veterans are invited onto the field for a pre-game parade at 5:50 p.m. The Cougars will also be honoring several military members with ceremonial first pitches and in-game recognition. Players from the Cougars, as well as Quad Cities, will assist military in holding a large American flag to be displayed on the field during the National Anthem. Among those attending and involved in the evening include many veteran employees from Fifth Third Bank joined by DeVry Military Resource Club, DuPage Veterans Center, Folds of Honor Foundation, Heart of a Marine Foundation, Operation Support our Troops, and many more.

Team News: The Cougars have gotten off to a strong start in the season’s second half and enter this evening’s road game at Peoria with a second half record of 7-4, and an overall record of 41-40. The team has seen a handful of new players arrive at Kane County this half, including starting pitcher Kyle Smith. Smith, a 4th round choice of the Royals in the 2011 draft, has made 2 starts and has yet to yield an earned run in 9 innings of work. Last week, Smith received  Pioneer League and Midwest League Pitcher of the Week honors for his first professional start at Idaho Falls, as well as his Cougars debut on June 24 at Clinton. Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio is tied with Lansing’s Kevin Pillar for the Midwest League lead in hits with 94. At this pace, Bonifacio will set the franchise single-season record for hits, held by Willy Hill (162 hits in 1999). Outfielder Julio Aparicio is batting .375 in his last 10 games. Pitcher Angel Baez, after entering this season with a winless professional record in the Royals’ system, is 3-2 with a 2.52 ERA in 7 appearances. Pitcher Andrew Triggs, the first member of the Royals’ 2012 draft class to land at Kane County, has made 2 relief appearances with 7 innings of scoreless work.

Alumni News:  Detroit infielder Miguel Cabrera (’01) and San Diego pitcher Huston Street (’04) were named Major League All-Stars on Sunday. This marks the 16th straight season in which at least one former Cougar has played in the midseason classic. Former Cougar Dontrelle Willis (’02) announced his retirement earlier this week. Willis was the 2003 National League Rookie of the Year and was instrumental in bringing the Florida Marlins a world championship that fall.  Oakland pitcher Sean Doolittle (’07), who made his big league debut on June 5, is 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in 9 appearances out of the A’s bullpen.

A pair of former Cougars were recently promoted from High-A Wilmington to Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Outfielder Brian Fletcher, Kane County’s 2011 Player of the Year, has played in 9 games so far with the Naturals. Pitcher Sugar Ray Marimon is 1-0 through 2 starts. Matt Ridings, who was a Midwest League All-Star earlier this summer, is 2-0 since being promoted to Wilmington from Kane County. Greg Billo, Kane County’s 2011 Pitcher of the Year, is 5-4 for Wilmington.

Pitcher Justin Friend was named an Eastern League All-Star, but received even better news several days ago as the right-hander was promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia). Friend had saved 14 games and sported a 0.33 ERA at Double-A Reading. Lehigh Valley is managed by former Cub and Peoria Chiefs manager Ryne Sandberg.  Another former Cougar who is standing just one rung of the ladder away from the major leagues is Dan Straily (’10). Another right-handed pitcher, Straily was recently promoted from Double-A Midland (Oakland) to Triple-A Sacramento.  In 3 starts for the River Cats, Straily has a 1.42 ERA, and has struck out 26 batters in 19 innings. Straily leads all of Minor League Baseball with 134 punchouts.

Pitcher Dan Straily (’10) has been one of the top hurlers in Minor League Baseball this season, leading MiLB with 130+ strikeouts. Straily is currently at Triple-A Sacramento.

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About Kane County Cougars

The Kane County Cougars are the Class-A Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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