Snappers postpone Kane County’s playoff berth in walk-off fashion

From the Beloit Snappers

The Cougars came into last night’s match-up looking to clinch the Midwest League Western Division, but Argenis Raga and the Snappers denied them that chance. Beloit came out on top in a dramatic 3-2 win thanks to Raga’s walk-off single in the 10th inning. Early on, it was a pitchers’ duel between Beloit starter Daniel Gossett (4-12, 4.98 ERA) and his Cougars counterpart Ethan Elias (10-5, 2.90 ERA), but some shoddy defense from both sides in the sixth inning forced the game into extras.

Gossett and Elias exchanged scoreless frames for the first five innings, but the Cougars finally broke through in the sixth inning. Michael Perez led off the inning with a single and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Quinnton Mack followed that up with a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. Gossett then got exactly what he needed as he induced a Victor Reyes ground ball back to the mound. He attempted to go third base and get the lead runner, but Gossett’s throw sailed out of third baseman Jose Brizuela’s reach and into left field. Perez was able to score on the play for the first run of the game. Ildemaro Vargas then hit a sacrifice fly to left field to extend the Cougars’ lead to 2-0.

Kane County tried to let the Snappers tie the game up in the bottom of the sixth, however. Elias hit Tim Proudfoot to lead off the inning. He came back to strike out Joe Bennie, but after that Elias’ defense failed him. Justin Higley hit what should have been an inning-ending double play to third baseman Joe Munoz, but Munoz booted the ball, putting runners on first and second with one out. Max Kuhn then hit into a nearly identical play: Munoz had the chance to turn an inning-ending double play and redeem himself, but instead he let the ball glance off his glove once again, this time loading the bases for Beloit. Brizuela hit into an RBI fielder’s choice, but that was all the Snappers could get from Munoz’s misplays.

That signified the end of the night for Elias, who had a stellar start. He threw six innings while allowing just the one unearned run on two hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven.

His Beloit counterpart was just as good, as Gossett finished with seven innings of two-run ball, though neither was earned. He allowed just four hits and a walk while striking out four.

Neither starter would factor in the decision, however. Kane County reliever Luis Ramirez walked Higley to start the eighth inning. Higley then stole second and was promptly driven in on Kuhn’s game-tying single.

That was all the Snappers would get in the eighth and they were also unable to score in the ninth, sending the game into extras. Koby Gauna tossed a scoreless top of the 10th, setting the stage for drama in the bottom of the inning. Kuhn hit a one-out double to center off of reliever Jose Martinez. Brizuela then drew a walk, but ball four of the walk sailed over the catcher Perez’s glove, allowing Kuhn to advance to third. Raga ended the game with a line drive single to left field.

Beloit’s offense was kept quiet for the most part on Monday, but Kuhn and Proudfoot had two hits each. The bullpen was also solid, as Cody Stull and Gauna combined for three scoreless innings until the offense could come through.

The Snappers will attempt to thwart Kane County’s playoff berth again tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the second game of this three-game set. Beloit will send Junior Mendez (3-11, 5.81 ERA) to the mound while the Cougars have yet to announce their starter.

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