Crane upends Marshall in Red-West rivalry game


Crane upends Marshall in Red-West rivalry game

Friday, Jan. 14, 2011
10:11 PM

By Patrick Z. McGavin

Kiernan Woods has seen it all before. Willie Connor was getting his first glimpse.

It is hard to get a proper feel of the West Side showdown of Crane and Marshall until the ball tips. A junior transfer from Hope Academy, Connor made an excellent first impression.

Connor scored 18 points and Woods scored eight of his 16 points in the fourth quarter as the host No. 15 Cougars used a huge second quarter burst to seize control and hold off a furious Marshall rally in the 57-53 victory Thursday.

Everybody was telling me, We havent played Marshall. Wait until that game, Connor said. He drilled back-to-back three-pointers and scored eight points during the Cougars 14-0 second-quarter run that propelled Crane (11-2, 5-1 Red-West) to a 24-11 advantage.

Woods scored 14 of his game-high total in the first half. I talked with Kiernan and he told me that he was going to penetrate to the basket and watch for the kick out pass, and thats exactly what I did, he said.

The Commandos (8-6, 3-2), shut out the opening 3:53 of the second quarter, responded with their own 8-0 burst that helped pull them within 29-23 at the break.

Connors final basket, a three-pointer from the right wing, again pushed the Cougars advantage to double digits, 36-25, early in the third quarter. Marshall refused to yield. They answered with a 13-4 burst to pull within two point at 40-38.

Crane senior guard Aaron Jackson, who was benched by coach Tim Anderson the previous three games due to disciplinary reasons, hit a floater at the buzzer to restore the Cougars advantage to four. Jackson would finish with 11 points.

Hurt by foul trouble much of the game, Woods dominated the fourth quarter. He repeatedly used his size and quickness to attack the basket in scoring eight points in the decisive quarter. They switched from a triangle and two to a man to man, and that opened up some possibilities of me to drive to the hole, Woods said.

The Cougars survived despite surrendering 29 turnovers and shooting just 5-14 at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. The turnovers and missed free throws enabled the Commandos to turn a late seven-point deficit into a one possession game in the final minute.

Behind the superb all-around play of senior guard Keifer Sykes (17 points), the Commandos scored five straight points to pull within 55-53 with 30.2 seconds remaining. After Kory Billups split two free throws for a three-point lead, Marshall missed a potential game-tying three-pointer. Crane harassed Marshall into 4 of 26 shooting on three-point attempts.

Shamon Mock added 11 points and Marlon Sykes contributed nine points for the Commandos.

Why what Mike Montgomery did against LA could go a long way toward keeping him in the Cubs' rotation

USA Today

Why what Mike Montgomery did against LA could go a long way toward keeping him in the Cubs' rotation

Joe Maddon needed Mike Montgomery to get through at least six innings given the circumstances presenting the Cubs' manager before Game 2 of Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Not only were the Cubs short a man in the bullpen (thanks to Brandon Morrow’s pants-related back injury), but Maddon had to use four relievers — including Pedro Strop for two innings — after Tyler Chatwood managed only five innings in Game 1 earlier in the afternoon. 

So when Montgomery — who had only thrown over 100 pitches once in the last two and a half seasons before Tuesday — saw his pitch count sit at 40 after two innings, and then 63 after three, he knew he needed to regroup to avoid creating a mess for the Cubs’ bullpen. 

What followed was a start that, statistically, wasn’t the most impressive of the five Montgomery’s made since re-joining the Cubs’ rotation earlier this year. But it was an important start in that the 28-year-old left-hander didn’t have his best stuff, yet didn’t give in to a good Dodgers lineup. And holding that bunch to one run over six innings was exactly what the Cubs needed in what turned out to be a 2-1 extra-inning win. 

“Especially when you don’t have have your best stuff, you always gotta — that’s when you really learn how to pitch,” Montgomery said. 

It’s also the kind of start that could be a major point in Montgomery’s favor when Maddon is presented with a decision to make on his starting rotation whenever Yu Darvish comes off the disabled list. Knowing that Montgomery can grind his way through six innings when his team needs it the most without his best stuff only can add to the confidence the Cubs have in him. 

Montgomery didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday, issuing more walks (four) than he had in his previous four starts (three). He threw 48 pitches between the second and third innings, and only 25 of those pitches were strikes. Of the nine times the Dodgers reached base against Montgomery, six were the result of fastballs either leading to a walk or a hit. 

Even though the Dodgers were able to bother Montgomery a bit on his fastball, Maddon said that’s the pitch of his that’s impressed him the most over the last few weeks. 

“He never got rushed,” Maddon said. “In the past he would seem to get rushed when things weren’t going well, when he spot-started. Overall, fastball command is better — even though he was off a little bit tonight, the fastball command still exceeds what I’ve seen in the past couple of years on a more consistent basis. The changeup, really, good pitch. He got out of some jams but I think the fact that he knows where his fastball is going now is the difference-maker for him.”

Darvish will throw a simulated game on Wednesday after throwing two bullpen sessions last week. Maddon still doesn’t have a timetable for the $126 million right-hander’s return, and said he’s not entertaining what to do with his rotation until Darvish comes off the disabled list. But Maddon did mention Montgomery’s relative lack of an innings load — the most he’s thrown in a season in 130 2/3, which he did in 2017 — as a reason to perhaps not rush him into a permanent starting role the rest of the season. Going to a six-man rotation is a possibility, too, Maddon said. 

But the over-arching point is this: Montgomery will remain in the Cubs’ rotation as long as he keeps earning it. That can be the product of strong outings in which he has good stuff, or games like Tuesday in which he shows the Cubs the kind of resiliency most starters need to get through a full season. 

“I pitch well, good things happen,” Montgomery said. “I’ve always thought that. Opportunities, you just gotta make the most of them.”

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 28th + 29th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 28th + 29th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

For the second time in 1998, Sosa went back-to-back games with multiple home runs. After going yard twice on June 19 of that season, Slammin' Sammy again sent two balls into the bleachers on June 20.

He singlehandedly beat the Phillies that night, driving in 5 runs in a 9-4 Cubs victory.

But that wasn't the most impressive feat of the day from Sosa. His second homer was actually measured at a whopping 500 feet! It was the longest of the season, but not the longest of his career. On June 24, 2003, Sosa hit a homer at Wrigley measured at 511 feet.

The back-to-back big games raised Sosa's season OPS to 1.083 with a ridiculous .685 slugging percentage. He began June 1998 with a .608 slugging percentage.

Fun fact: Kerry Wood struck out 11 batters in 7.1 innings on June 20, 1998 to pick up his 7th big-league victory. As Wood marched to the National League Rookie of the Year that season, he finished with a 13-6 record and 233 strikeouts in only 166.2 innings for a career-high 12.6 K/9 rate.