By Sedric Granger
Battle Creek, MI – The Battle Jacks used an offensive explosion of 12 runs on a season high 16 hits to earn their first win over the Rockford Rivets this season, 12-6.
After only recording two hits yesterday, it seemed that the Battle Jacks offense regressed a little bit from previous games. Before the game, Clark and the rest of the Battle Creek coaching staff emphasized to his players the importance of letting pitches come to you and swinging at pitches that are in parts of the zone that you excel at hitting in. The players embraced the coaching point during batting practice before the game, and they saw it pay off in the win over the Rivets.
“We really bought into what we were talking about,” said Field Manager Chris Clark. “The at bats were much better today. We took what we were given, got into good counts, and did not miss good pitches to hit.”
All nine players in the Battle Jacks lineup either registered a hit or scored a run. Second baseman Brock Daniels (Missouri) continued his phenomenal season, registering three hits and a pair of RBIs. First baseman Blake Salamon (Northwood University) had a resurgent day at the plate with a pair of hits, two runs, and two RBIs. On a day full of strong offensive performances, Jt Sokolove (Illinois State) had his best game of the season.
“I was able to get ahead in counts today,” said Sokolove after the game. “That gave me a better chance to hit some fast balls. I was able to do some damage when I saw that pitch today.”
Sokolove had a perfect day at the plate. In his four at bats, the sophomore amassed four hits, a run, two RBIs, and a pair of stolen bases. Through three games, Sokolove has an excellent .667 batting average. Although Sokolove just arrived this past Monday, he has been a valuable addition to the team both offensively and defensively.
Even though the offense stole the show today, the Battle Creek defense has also shown some clear improvement throughout the home stand.
“Our starters have been really good,” said Clark with a smile. “Every day that we show up to the game, we feel that we can get a quality start. The hitters came around today to give them some run support and the fielders made some great plays behind them.”
Gavin Beuter (Kellogg Community College) got the start and had a solid outing, striking out five and yielding only two earned runs in six innings pitched. After previously starting against the Rivets, Gage Smith (Oakland) delivered two innings of work to get the Battle Jacks through the late portion of the game. Alex Jarrell (Middle Georgia State) and Nick George (William Penn) worked together in the 9th inning to clinch the victory.
In addition to the pitching, the Battle Jacks fielding has grown more sound. Going into the home stand, Battle Creek was second in the Northwoods League in errors with 15. Over the last four games, Battle Creek’s infielders have neutralized that weakness, making only one fielding error in that span.
The Outfielders also excelled in the win against Rockford. From his left field position, Blake McRae (Eastern Michigan University) showed off his cannon when he threw out a Rivets runner along the third base to home plate base path for a putout, taking a potential run off the board. In addition, with the bases loaded in the top of the 9th inning, Kyle Ratliff (SIUE) made an impressive sliding catch, putting the relief pitchers in a better position to end the game without having to worry about a potential late rally from the Rivets.
With this win, Battle Creek (3-7) splits this two-game home series with Rockford (5-5). The Battle Jacks have proven themselves to be a tough home team as they have split each series that they have played at home so far. Battle Creek will look to defend MCCU Field against first place Traverse City (7-3) on Thursday.
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.