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Published On: July 3rd, 2023

By Sedric Granger

Battle Creek, MI – Behind six doubles and a herculean effort from the pitching staff, the Battle Creek Battle Jacks (10-23) upset the Rockford Rivets (19-14), 4-3, at MCCU Field.

Due to inclement weather, the game was delayed from a 5:05 first pitch to a 7:30 start. For both teams, it was critical to stay focused despite the delay.

“We try to stay as ready as we can,” said Field Manager Chris Clark in an interview before the game. “Mentally it is tough on our guys. The players see the conditions outside. As a team, it is important for the team to stay locked in.”

Although Battle Creek is out of contention for a playoff spot in the first half of the season, the Battle Jacks had a huge opportunity to eliminate the Rockford Rivets. After being outscored in the last two game series against Rockford, 22-2, the Battle Jacks were determined to give their Great Lakes East rival a dogfight.

The Dogs got on the board first in the bottom of the 2nd inning when Kyle Ratliff (SIUE) doubled to right field to drive in Blake McRae (Eastern Michigan). Even though the Rivets responded with a trio of runs in the 3rd inning, the Battle Jacks made multiple dynamic plays in the 4th. First, McRae drove in Jake Allgeyer (Western Illinois) on an RBI single. In the next at bat, Kyle Ratliff scorched his second RBI double to center field to drive in McRae and tie the game, 3-3. The Blue and White were hitting doubles all over the place.

“It felt good going back to the basics and slowing the game down,” said Ratliff after the win. “It was a weird day due to the delays, but being able to stay locked in and have fun really gave us success.”

The score would remain tied from the bottom of the 4th inning until the bottom of the 8th. An excellent performance from the pitching staff gave the Battle Jacks a good opportunity to seize victory. Drew Burkholder (Rock Valley College) was excellent out of the bullpen, pitching four and two thirds scoreless innings with a season high five strikeouts in relief of starter Tre Benjamin (Western Illinois). 

“It’s definitely a little strain on the arm,” said Burkholder. “But, when you are up there on the mound and everything is tense, you just do it!


Burkholder earned his first win of the season for his performance. He took the Battle Jacks from the top of the 4th inning until midway through the top of the 9th without giving up any earned runs. This effort on the mound opened up the opportunity for the Battle Creek offense to make the biggest play of the game. In the bottom of the 8th inning, Allgeyer drove in Blake Salamon (Northwood University) on a line drive RBI double for the Battle Jacks’ sixth double of the day, giving the home team a 4-3 lead. 

“I did not want the game to go into the 9th,” said Allgeyer triumphantly. “I wanted to get something that I could handle over the plate and got one that I drove up the middle! It was a great team win. Tre Benjamin gave us a good start. Drew Burkholder came in and bulldogged for us on the mound. Lastly, Jake Jekielek came in to shut the door.”

After Allgeyer hit the go-ahead RBI double in the 8th, Jake Jekielek (Northwood University) retired the side in the 9th to both earn the save and clinch a victory, 4-3.

With this win, the Battle Jacks earned their 10th win of the first half of the season. Battle Creek will aim to keep up their winning ways against Rockford at home on Monday. Whether rain or shine, the Battle Jacks always love having their home crowd behind them at MCCU Field.

“It was all energy all game long at MCCU Field,” said Allgeyer. “The fans mean everything. They come out to every game, and the energy that they bring is electric! It helps us play at our best.”


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 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.