The Battle Creek Bombers fell in an extra-innings slugfest to the Traverse City Pit Spitters 12-9 in 10 innings. With the win, Traverse City clinched the first-half Great Lakes East championship and automatically qualify for the Northwoods League playoffs.
The Pit Spitters, who came into the game controlling their own destiny, got off to a hot start off of Bombers starter Calvin Starnes. A four-run first inning, highlighted by a two-run double by Andrew Morrow, put Traverse City squarely in the drivers’ seat. A Kam Smith RBI single in the third plated Morrow to give the Pit Spitters insurance.
In the bottom of the third, though, the Bombers would storm back. Nine Battle Creek batters would come to the plate as the Bombers came all the way back to tie the game at five. Jack Merrifield’s two-RBI single, coupled with some aggressive baserunning from Kelby Weyler, chased the Traverse City starter Chase Gearing from the game in the inning. Gearing, who had previously only come out of the bullpen for the Pit Spitters, still delivered his longest outing of the season to date.
Battle creek would take the lead in the fourth inning, as an error from shortstop Gabe Sotres allowed Michael Morrissette to score, and a sacrifice fly from Collin Clayton plated Sotres. Battle Creek would extend their lead even further in the fifth inning off of reliever Pat Hohlfeld, as RBI singles from Morrissette and Sotres gave the Bombers a 9-5 lead.
The sixth inning saw three Traverse City runs, though, thanks to a double from Faust and a sacrifice fly from right fielder Daniel Head. A wild pitch from Bombers reliever Mitchell Lee, who would end up throwing four innings for Battle Creek, tied matters at nine runs apiece in the seventh.
No further runs would come across in regulation, as the game went to extra innings. A two-RBI single from Morrow with the bases loaded gave Traverse City the lead, and a Jake Wilson single would provide them with a three-run advantage. Evan Gates came on in the bottom of the tenth to close out the game, and the division, and did just that. A relay play from the Pit Spitters to get Jack Merrifield at home plate after a single from Morrissette helped propel Traverse City to the finish line, and a strikeout of Sotres would send the Pit Spitters into bedlam.
The contest was the highest-scoring contest of the season for Battle Creek, as all but one Bomber reached base for Battle Creek. As the first-half division champions, Traverse City will play the winner of the second half in a three-game series beginning August 12. The Bombers and Pit Spitters will play again on Tuesday night at 7:05 at C.O. Brown Stadium.
The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Currently in its’ 26th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 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, over 200 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (MIA). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.