Playing together for the first time since the 2006 Kentucky Southeastern Conference Championship season, former UK standouts Collin Cowgill and Sean Coughlin had monster evenings in the Midwest League, leading the South Bend Silver Hawks to a 10-2 win over Quad Cities.
Cowgill, promoted to the low Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday, made his Northwest League debut, teaming with former UK teammate Sean Coughlin on the Silver Hawks. Cowgill and Coughlin hit 3-4 in the order on Thursday, with Cowgill made a splashing debut with a 2-for-3, two run, two-walk game. Coughlin, a 6-foot-1 215-pound left-handed hitter, had a career game, going 2-for-4 with two home runs and a career high seven RBI, belting a grandslam and a two run homer in the contest. Coughlin, a 2007 first-team All-American at UK, also drew a bases-loaded walk for an RBI.
Cowgill, a Lexington native and former Kentucky High School Mr. Baseball, has opened the first 21 games of his professional career on a blistering pace, earning a quick promotion from the short-season Yakima Bears of the Northwest League. Cowgill played in 20 games for Yakima, batting .304 with 3 doubles, a triple and a league leading 11 home runs and 28 RBI. Cowgill added a 12-17 walk-strikeout ratio, swiping 5-of-5 bases, twice earning Northwest League Player of the Week honors.
Coughlin has been an everyday member of the Silver Hawks all season, playing in 59 games. A Midwest League All-Star catcher, Coughlin has hit .248 in 202 at bats, adding 18 doubles, 10 homers, and 55 RBI, compiling an impressive 36-37 walk-strikeout ratio. Coughlin, who had failed to hit a home run in 58 games against a left-handed pitcher this year, had to solve Quad Cities lefty Nick Addition, who entered the game with a 1.14 ERA in his past 10 games.
"I had been seeing lefties well at the beginning of the season, but for a while it seemed like I just couldn't get over that hump," said Coughlin, who was homerless in the last 13 games.
"I've been working with my hitting coach on keeping my front hip closed against lefties, but once the game starts my approach is just see the ball, hit the ball."
Coughlin started the game with a bang in the first inning, as the first three hitters – including a Cowgill single – reached base. Coughlin belted a shot over the right-field fence, for the grand slam.
"My main goal was just to move the runners over, but since I was hitting fourth today, I knew my job was to drive in some runs as well," Coughlin said in an interview with Benjamin Hill of MLB.com. "He threw me a fastball that looked real big and, fortunately, I was able to get a hold of it."
Additon retired the next seven batters, but Cowgill drew a one-out walk in the third frame and Coughlin came through with his second round tripper of the contest and 10th of the year for South Bend. It was Coughlin’s his first multi-homer performance since May 18.
After striking out in the fifth and popping out in the sixth, Coughlin came up in the seventh with the bases loaded again, working the count full before walking.
"They did a good job pitching to me after the first two homers" he said. "I saw a lot of changeups and off-speed stuff and basically didn't get many pitches to hit."
Coughlin had a monster two years at Kentucky, batting .344 with 16 doubles, three triples and 13 home runs in 2007 after a 2006 season that saw him hit .325 with 17 home runs and 55 RBI.
Cowgill, a 5-foot-9, 195-pound centerfielder, hit .361 with 15 doubles, two triples and 19 RBI, driving in 60 RBI, drawing a team-best 49 walks and swiping 23-of-27 bases in 2008. A first-team All-American in 2008, Cowgill redshirted in 2007 due to injury after hitting .291 with 16 home runs and 56 RBI during the 2006 SEC Championship season. Cowgill was a fifth-round pick of the Diamondbacks in June, with Coughlin a 13th-ranked pick in 2007.