Bombers Fall for the First Time This Season as Mac Daddies Win Franchise’s First Game
KALAMAZOO, MI., — The Bombers’ bats were silenced in their first loss of the season, as the Kalamazoo Mac Daddies won their first game in franchise history, 3-2.
Right out of the gate, the Bombers dug themselves a hole. Ryan Vogt struggled to start the game, allowing the first two batters of the game to get on base, as Kyle Ashworth walked and Luke Ard hit a hard ball just beyond the reach of Tyler Wardwell.
A few at bats later and the Bombers were facing a bases-loaded jam with just one out. Connor McGuire drove in the first run of the game on a grounder to the left side. McGuire reached first via a single, while Ashworth scored. McGuire wound up being the final out of the inning, however, as he was thrown out at third base on a Chase Coselman single. Ard came around to score just prior to the out.
There was not much action throughout most of the game. The Bombers only managed two base runners through the first six innings. Miguel Reyes Jr. for the Mac Daddies was brilliant as the starter, pitching three innings and striking out six batters. Two of his strikeouts came against TJ McKenzie, the Vanderbilt University product, who managed to get on base one time in the game due to an error by McGuire.
Vogt settled down after his shaky first inning, as he matched Reyes Jr.’s three innings but gave up a total of five hits and two earned runs.
The Bombers showed some life in the bottom of the seventh inning against Doug Propson. The Kalamazoo College reliever surrendered the lead off after Trace Peterson homered to the shallow porch in leftfield. He knocked in a pair of RBIs, as Joe Mason singled before him to lead off the inning. After a quick two outs for Propson, field manager Greg Weyrich pulled the righty for Ian Leatherman who pitched a phenomenal 2.1 innings to get the save.
In the top of the eighth, the Bombers sent out Luke Murphy who struggled with his approach in his opening day appearance back on July 2, where he only managed to get through one-third of an inning. In the few days between, Murphy and his manager, Mike Ruppenthal, worked on his game.
“We had some talks about his mental approach after his last outing,” Ruppenthal said. “He kind of struggled. He had a couple of hitters that he reverted back to his old ways, but for the most part, I was pleased with what he did today.”
Those batters he struggled with came at the bottom of the Mac Daddies’ lineup, as Murphy allowed Parker Murdie and Patrick Arndt to get on base to start the inning. Murphy appeared to get out of the woods with the bases loaded, after it seemed as if the Bombers forced Ard into an inning-ending double play. In what Ruppenthal called a “bang-bang play,” Ard was called safe and the Mac Daddies scored the game-winning run as Murdie crossed home plate.
After that run, Murphy was lights out in the ninth, working a one-two-three inning. Murphy’s performance on the mound is one Ruppenthal has high hopes for once he can perform consistently.
“If he is feeling it up, he showed a really good breaking ball today,” Ruppenthal said. “He is going to be a big piece of the backend of the bullpen if he can be consistent.”
Outside of the three runs allowed, the Bombers defensively played better. Despite that, the Mac Daddies met Battle Creek with a small ball approach that was executed very well.
Kalamazoo’s Stuart Weyrich laid down two successful sacrifice bunts, including one in the eight inning with two strikes. That combined with getting its best pitchers on the mound was a recipe for success.
“They were pretty scrapy,” Ruppenthal said. “I thought we saw some of their better pitchers from what I’ve seen in their last few games they’ve played.”
As for the bottom of the ninth, it was fairly low-drama. Leatherman sent the Bombers home with their first loss of the season without allowing a single base runner.
These two teams will face off again Tuesday night, where Ruppenthal hopes to see his team make string a couple hits together.
“We need to start scoring runs,” Ruppenthal said. “We can’t rely on the two-run homerun, we’ve got to start stringing stuff together … I really hope [the timing is down on] Tuesday.”