Battle Jacks infield huddles together during Sunday’s contest (Article by Brendan Nordstrom and photo by Melissa Vozar)
In a Sunday matinee versus the rivals to the west, the Battle Creek Battle Jacks (8-5) fell to the Kalamazoo Growlers (5-8) by a score of 7-2.
While Kalamazoo could string hits together, including a two-run home run over the right-field wall, Battle Creek struggled on all sides of the ball. On the offensive side, the Battle Jacks outhit the Growlers by a whopping ten hits to five, but stranded 12 runners on the base paths with at least one coming in each inning of the game. Defensively, the Battle Jacks were at fault for three errors, all of which were on throws to first base. Finally, the pitching gave up eight free bases with five walks and three hit batters. The Battle Jacks have hit the Growlers with pitches 11 times in their three contests.
Battle Creek jumped to the early lead in the bottom of the second when designated hitter Aaron Dolney hit his fifth double of the season to lead off the inning. Second baseman James Canar hit an infield single for his first hit of the summer to plate Dolney and take an early 1-0 lead.
Kalamazoo immediately answered beginning with back-to-back walks from BC starter Dominic Hann. Right fielder Luke Storm made him pay by lining a two-RBI double to centerfield. Centerfielder Devin Obee reached on an error to Battle Jacks shortstop Robbie Merced that plated a third runner.
Two innings later the Growlers tacked on a couple more after a leadoff single off the bat of Kalamazoo left fielder Lawson Knight set up Storm and the top of the lineup. Battle Jacks RHP Nathan Ross put a ball in the wrong spot as Storm sent it into the road behind the right-field wall for a two-run rocket of a home run and a 5-1 lead.
Centerfielder Bobby Nichols led off the seventh with a left-field single, which was followed by an infield single by third baseman Fisher Pyatt. Left fielder Jace Matkin hit a sac-fly to score Nichols to scratch back, cutting the lead down to three.
In the eighth inning, Kalamazoo added two more insurance runs to take BC out of one-swing range. Debuting RHP Anthony Tejeda hit the leadoff batter and let up a single to second baseman Brandon Moore. Knight reached on an error after a close tag at first and designated hitter Ryan Dykstra crossed two with a single to center field to take a 7-2 lead.
The Battle Jacks got the first two hitters on in the eighth, but could not score either of them. A double play ended the game in the bottom of the ninth as BC fell behind 1-2 in the I-94 cup.
Standouts at the plate include Fisher Pyatt who went 2/4 with a walk, Aaron Dolney who went 2/4 with a double, Gabe Sotres who went 2/4, and James Canar who went 1/3 with an RBI single.
The Battle Jacks will seek revenge and take the trip due west to Kalamazoo for a Monday evening matchup against the Growlers at 6:35 p.m. tomorrow.