By Sedric Granger
Battle Creek, MI – In a 4th of July edition of Northwoods League Baseball, the Battle Creek Battle Jacks (11-24) crushed the Traverse City Pit Spitters (22-14), 18-3, at MCCU Field.
After finishing in last place in the first half of the season, the Battle Jacks wanted to make a statement in game one. When it comes to teams to beat in the Northwoods League, the Pit Spitters have climbed to the top of that list. On the night prior to this game, Traverse City clinched a playoff berth for the 4th season in a row. As a result, the Battle Jacks could put the league on notice with a win on the opening day of the new half of the season.
Battle Creek did not just win the game but also put together their best offensive performance of the season. The Battle Jacks finished the day with seven consecutive innings with at least one or more runs scored. The Blue and White set season highs for most hits in a game with 18, most runs in a game with 18, and home runs with two.
“Overall, the guys were excited and ready for a fresh start,” said Field Manager Chris Clark. “Offensively, you cannot ask for a better day than what we had today.”
There was no shortage of fireworks from the Battle Jacks on the field. Jt Sokolove (Illinois State) finished three-for-six at the plate with a ridiculous five-RBI. Kyle Ratliff (SIUE) finished two-for-five with three runs scored and a home run. On the topic of home runs, Blake McRae (EMU) hammered his first homer of the season and made a huge play on the base paths, avoiding a tag at home plate by the Traverse City catcher for the Sports Center worthy play.
Since Chris Clark added 12 new players for the second half of the season, another major storyline for the Battle Jacks was the debut of Riley Silva (Nebraska), Luke Cheng (Illinois State), and Sebastian Kuhns (Huntington University). Those three players immediately contributed to the Battle Jacks offensive production. Silva opened up his time in Battle Creek with a two-for-five day with two RBI and a walk. Cheng dominated at the plate, going four-for-six with three runs and two RBI. Lastly, Kuhns was not only strong behind the dish as the catcher but also went two-for-three at the plate with two walks and four runs scored. The new Battle Jacks each started their times in the Northwoods League on a high note.
All of that offense was complimented by a terrific start from Kameron Haviland (Benedictine University at Mesa) on the mound. The sophomore right-handed pitcher went five innings, yielding only one earned run, striking out four, and earning his second win of the season.
“Every time Haviland touches the mound, the team knows we have a chance to win,” said Clark. “Kam is a competitor. Haviland giving us a good start was huge in the win.”
Haviland showed the strong ability to throw his curveballs and sliders for strikes which made things difficult for the Traverse City bats.
With this win, the Battle Jacks start off the second half of the season in the same way they started the first half – with a victory! They will look for their first home series sweep on Wednesday against Traverse City.
“We will enjoy this one for tonight,” remarked Clark after the game, “The team will enjoy the holiday, but come back ready to go to work tomorrow against a well coached Traverse City team.”
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.