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Miscues Cost Bombers in One-Run Loss to Green Bay

By Luke Tanaka, Radio Broadcaster

Battle Creek, Mich. – Sloppy play bogged down the majority of Wednesday’s contest between the Battle Creek Bombers and Green Bay Bullfrogs, with a ninth-inning balk the deciding factor in a 10-9 Bombers loss. 

In the ninth, Evan Dunn (Pepperdine) forced two outs, but walked the Bullfrogs’ Matt De La Rosa (Lenior-Rhyne) and, a pinch runner, Kaleb Ratzman (Illinois State), stole second and third to put himself in prime scoring position. Then, in a fitting end to a sloppy ballgame, the umpires called a balk on a Dunn third-to-first pick off move, allowing the go-ahead run to come home. 

The teams combined for 20 walks and three hit batters, while the Bombers committed all three errors. Despite scoring 19 runs, the teams only combined for 15 hits in a sloppy contest at C.O. Brown Stadium. 

For the second consecutive game, the Bombers jumped out to an early lead. This time, Battle Creek scored four runs without recording a hit. Dan Swain (Siena) and Lin Li (Taiwan) led off the game with walks and, after a Niko Pacheco (Cal State Fullerton) struck out, Michael Sanderson (Cal Poly) followed with another walk to load the bases. Christian Helsel (Penn State) took the first pitch he saw off his left leg to force in the first Bombers run. Li, Sanderson, and Helsel would all score after a Brennon Lund (BYU) walk, a Blake Swann (Florida Southern) hit by pitch, and a Cayce Bredlau walk. 

Green Bay found the scoreboard in the third, also without a hit, off of Bombers starter Alden Cartwright (LSU). De La Rosa walked, stole second, and moved to third on Mason George’s groundout. With the infield back, De La Rosa scored on Duarte’s groundout to second. 

Battle Creek answered right back with a two-out rally. Sanderson and Helsel reached on back-to-back walks and Lund knocked in Sanderson with a single. 

Bombers starter Alden Cartwright (LSU) started the fourth, but allowed a single and two walks before being replaced by Nick Medeiros (Santa Clara). Medeiros walked in a Green Bay run to make the score 5-2 and then allowed a sac fly to add another Bullfrogs run. Helsel nabbed a run at the plate on a groundball to first, but Ty Blankmeyer (St. John’s) walked to load the bases. Then Mikey Duarte (UC Irvine) hit a ball to first, but Mederios had the ball go off his glove on what would have been the third out. Two runs came around to score on the error, tying the score at five. 

Still in the fourth, Green Bay took the lead when Robb Paller (Columbia) singled in two more runs, and scored on a single by Brian Celsi (UC Berkeley). Seven runs, three hits, and 12 batters later, the innings finally ended when Celsi was picked off at first base. 

Green Bay added one more unearned run in the sixth inning. Duarte walked, moved to second on a throwing error by Medeiros and then came around to score on another Paller single. 

The Bombers reset the game with three in the bottom of the sixth. Li, Sanderson, and Helsel all singled to load the bases. Another bases loaded walk, this time by Bullfrogs reliever Matt McCarthy (Penn State), put the Bombers one run closer. Swann’s sacrifice fly scored Sanderson and Bredlau’s single plated Helsel. 

After uneventful seventh and eighth innings, the balk cost the Bombers in the ninth. 

The Bombers had a chance in the bottom of the ninth as Swann ripped a single that almost took the head off of Green Bay’s new pitcher Jake Stolley (Northwestern) and reached third on a sacrifice and a passed ball. But Truluck lined a ball that Rosenbaum snatched out of the air and Swain grounded out to short, ending the ballgame and the Bombers’ chances of a win against the Bullfrogs this season. 

Dunn received the loss after giving up the deciding run, while Chad Dullnig (Ranger College) – 2 1-3 shutout innings – earned the win Stolley picked up the save. 

Lund led the offense once again, extending his on-base streak to 11 games with two walks, two singles, while knocking in three runs and scoring one. Swann and Bredlau both had two RBIs, while Bredlau and Sanderson had two hits each. Sanderson also scored three of the Bombers’ nine runs. Li scored both times he reached base (a single and a walk). 

The Bullfrogs ended with 10 runs on five hits. Paller accounted for three of those hits and also had three RBIs. 

Thomas Sander (Northwest Oklahoma State) and Steven Wells Jr. (Florida State) combined for 2 1-3 innings of shutout ball out of the bullpen. Wells Jr. entered the game when Sander left the game with an apparent arm injury. 

The Bombers (14-29, 1-7 second half) will welcome the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, looking for their first victory of the six-game home stand. First pitch tomorrow is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. It is also Thirsty Thursday presented by Labatt, which means $2.00 Labatts all night long.

The Battle Creek Bombers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 22nd season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 120 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (BOS) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). For more information, visit www.battlecreekbombers.com.

(Story photo courtesy of Battle Creek Photography and Design – Levi Green)