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Bombers Tack on Late Runs to Beat Rafters

By Max Gun, Radio Broadcaster

Battle Creek, Mich.– The Battle Creek Bombers squeaked out a one-run win against the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters Thursday night, winning 5-4.

The Bombers struck first for the third straight game. Dan Swain (Siena) singled in the first inning and advanced to third on a Casey Bredlau (Austin Peay) single. Swain eventually scored after Christian Helsel (Penn State) hit a ground ball to the third baseman Brock Carpenter (Seattle) who committed an error to make it 1-0 Bombers.

The Bombers added to their lead in the third inning when Swain led off with a walk, and Bredlau tripled him home to give Battle Creek a 2-0 advantage. Then Dre Gleason led off the fourth inning with a walk, and came all the way around to score on a Hank Truluck (Florida State) double, giving Battle Creek a 3-0 advantage. That spelled the end of the day for Rafters starter Adam Hall (Xavier). He went 5 innings, allowing 4 hits, 3 runs, (2 earned), while walking 4 and stirking out 6.

But the Rafters came back against Bombers starter Alex Hermeling in the sixth to tie the game. Beau Jordan (LSU) led off with a single, and then Carpenter hit a ground ball right back to Hermeling. In what looked like a tailor-made 1-6-3 double play, Hermeling’s throw hit off the glove of Truluck, allowing Jordan to run all the way to third base on the throw to put runners at the corners with no outs. Jake Sandlin (Georgia College) then singled to right field to score Jordan, cutting the Bombers lead to 3-1. After striking out the next two hitters, Sandlin stole second base, putting him in scoring position along with Carpenter. Alex Herceg (Keystone College), then singled softly up the middle to score both Carpenter and Sandlin, tying the game at 3-3.

The seesaw game finally fell in the way of Battle Creek, when the Bombers regained the lead for good when they scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Facing a new Rafters pitcher, Chris Falwell (Cisco College), Spencer Hemphill (Louisiana Monroe) was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Steven Wells Jr. (Florida State) followed by hitting a double down the left field line, putting runners at second and third base with nobody out. Dre Gleason (Austin Peay) drove in Hemphill with a single to left field, and Matt Simmons (Gardner-Webb) hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-3. Falwell did not record an out in the game and took the loss (0-4).

Alex Hermeling, in perhaps his final Bombers start due to inning limit requests, got the win (3-3) and pitched 6.1 innings, allowing 8 hits and 3 runs (none earned), and 8 strikeouts. Kaleb McCurry (Mars Hill University) relieved Hermeling to pitch 1.2 scoreless innings while notching three strikeouts. Mason Marshall (BYU) came on for the save and allowed a run on a dropped third strike call to make it 5-4. But Marshall struck ended the game by striking out the side. Marshall accomplished the rare 4 strikeout inning. The Bombers are now 15-29 overall on the season and 2-7 in the second half.

“Herm looked great, he did exactly what he’s been doing since he got here this year and that’s fill up the zone,” said Bombers pitching coach Matt Reed. “He was really sharp with his cutter tonight, and he used his changeup and curveball a little better than he has in the past and that led to a led of success today.”

Battle Creek will round out the home stand on Friday night in the series finale against he Rafters, first pitch at 7:05 p.m. from C.O. Brown.

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)