By Sedric Granger
Battle Creek, MI- The Battle Creek Battle Jacks used an excellent pitching performance from Hunter Varnadoe (Middle Georgia State) and Dylan Howanitz (West Chester) to defeat the Kenosha Kingfish, 3-2.
Although the Battle Jacks were on a six game losing streak, the energy during the warm ups was both confident and loose for Battle Creek. After playing the first seven games of the year with minimal depth, the Dogs added some much needed reinforcements to the roster.
“Adding some new players to the roster finally gives some of our guys a much needed break,” said Field Manager Chris Clark before the game. “The past seven days of games were a lot like a Major League Baseball week which is something that most of the players on my team have not experienced. Now those guys are going to have a chance to take care of their bodies and have an off day.”
The new additions to the roster included Kyle Ratliff (Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville), Jt Sokolove (Illinois State), Blake McRae (Eastern Michigan), and Fisher Pyatt (Central Arizona College), who each made their debut for the Battle Jacks in this Kenosha series. Each of these players provided much needed relief to both the infield and outfield. Having rested players in the game led the Battle Jacks to playing a sound game defensively, recording zero errors for only the second time this season.
With strong support from the defense, the Battle Creek pitching staff thrived in the win against Kenosha. Hunter Varnadoe (1-0, 3.52 ERA) got the start for the Battle Jacks, allowing just three hits, two earned runs, and three strikeouts in five and two thirds innings. The righty pitcher out of Middle Georgia State University was dominant on the mound as he earned the win for his performance. After Varnadoe’s day was done, Dylan Howanitz (1 save, 2.08 ERA) came into the game and dominated from the 6th inning onward on the hill, striking out four Kingfish.
“I wanted to do it for my teammates, do it for my community, and do it for Hunter Varnadoe who threw a great first six innings,” said Howanitz with a triumphant tone. “Hunter had his stuff today, and I wanted to make sure that I picked up where he left off with my pitching. This was a great team win.”
Howanitz utilized his submarine style pitching to maintain Battle Creek’s one-run advantage through the final three and a third inning, allowing just one hit and no earned runs. The junior from West Chester University earned the save for his play out of the bullpen.
Although the Battle Jacks have struggled to play complementary offensive and defensive baseball this season, Battle Creek got the run support that they needed. All the Battle Jacks needed was just one inning with some offensive production, and the bats delivered just that in the 5th inning. First, Coltrane Rubner (Davenport) singled to left field to score Payton Mazzola (Madonna). Lastly, Brock Daniels (Missouri) delivered the offensive play of the day when he drilled an RBI double to right field, scoring Sokolove and Rubner. Overall, the Battle Jacks amassed three runs on three hits in the 5th inning to take a, 3-2, lead over Kenosha, a lead in which the Battle Jacks would protect.
With the win, the Battle Jacks (2-6) split their two-game series against the Kingfish (3-5). In addition, Battle Creek has ended their six-game losing streak that dated back to May 30th. The Dogs will take on the Rockford Rivets (4-4) at MCCU Field on Tuesday.
“I talked to my team about winning the sevens and we are now 1-0 for the second week,” said Coach Clark after the victory. “We are going to try and stack days and see how many wins we can rack up.”
The Battle Creek Battle Jacks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Having completed its’ 27th 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 250 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and MLB Gold Glove finalist and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TOR). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.battlejacksbaseball.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set Battle Creek as your favorite team.