By Sedric Granger
Battle Creek, MI – The Rockford Rivets (20-14) defeated the Battle Creek Battle Jacks (10-24), 6-1, at MCCU Field to split the series.
After the Battle Jacks took down Rockford starting pitcher Ty Hutto in yesterday’s game, Battle Creek once again faced a pitcher that had previously posted two victories against the Jacks. Going into this game, Brett Sears pitched against the dogs on June 2nd and June 20th, and both games resulted in Rivets wins. In 12 innings against the Battle Jacks, Sears has struck out sixteen Battle Creek batters and yielded only one earned run. If the Battle Jacks wanted to win today, they needed to find a way to sustain offense against Sears.
“We got to hit Sears’ fastball,” said Field Manager Chris Clark when asked about the team’s strategy for the matchup. “The last couple of times we played Rockford, we have really missed a lot on that pitch early. Whether it is him making a quality pitch or us just taking it, we got to make sure we are on his fastball today. If he is going to beat us, he has got to throw more than just the fastball for a strike.”
The Battle Jacks rose to the occasion early with six hits and a run in the first four innings against Sears. Charlie Rhee (San Diego State) and Fisher Pyatt (Central Arizona College) each recorded a pair of base hits in their first two plate appearances while Dave Alleva (West Chester) and Jake Allgeyer (Western Illinois) each added on a single. Kyle Ratliff (SIUE) put Battle Creek on the board when he drove in Allgeyer on a fielder’s choice in the 2nd inning to tie the game, 1-1.
Unfortunately for the Battle Jacks, Sears countered the Battle Creek’s adjustment to the fastball by throwing more off-speed pitches. The Rockford pitcher struck out multiple batters with changeups and sliders en route to a six-strikeout performance in eight innings of work. The Black and Gold offense gave Sears run support in the 4th, 6th, and 8th innings. Once the Battle Jacks forced the Rivets into their bullpen in the 9th, it was too late for the Blue and White to sustain any offense. Rockford closed the game in the 9th to win the matchup, 6-1.
Although Battle Creek lost, some of the highlights included the performances of some of the Battle Jacks that were playing in their last game as a member of the team. Jake Tirk (College of Marin) closed out his season with the Battle Jacks with his season-high for innings pitched with five and a third. In a similar way to opening night, Avery Mosseau (St. Anselm College) pitched in the 9th inning for Battle Creek. Lastly, Dave Alleva finished off his time as a Battle Jack with a one-for-three day at the plate.
With this loss, the Battle Jacks finish the first half of the season with a 10-24 record. Fortunately for Battle Creek, the records reset for the second half of the season. Since the team with the best record in the second half of the season makes the playoffs, a second half Battle Jacks roster full of new faces has a huge opportunity to fight for the top spot in the Great Lakes East.
Battle Creek will look to start the second half of the season in the same way that they started off the first half of the year when they beat Kokomo, 15-11. The Battle Jacks take on the Traverse City Pit Spitters at 1:05 on Tuesday for a special 4th of July matinee matchup.
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.