By Sedric Granger
Battle Creek, MI – On a rainy evening at MCCU Field, the Kenosha Kingfish (20-23) staved off a pair of furious Battle Creek Battle Jacks (15-29) rallies to secure the road win, 3-2.
This matchup was another game down to the wire. This is the fourth time that a Kenosha-Battle Creek Game has been decided by a deficit of three or less runs this season.
The Battle Jacks pitching was solid in this game. In the 2nd inning, starting pitcher Jared Schwartz (Davenport University) got into some trouble early due to both giving up two earned runs and exceeding the maximum pitch count of 35 per inning. Fortunately, Schwartz was still able to strike out four Kingfish batters at the plate.
Zechariah Frasher (St. Peters University) was phenomenal from the bullpen, fanning two batters in four innings of work. Submarine style pitcher Dylan Howanitz (West Chester) contributed one and two third scoreless innings while Ryan Wilwers (MidAmerica Nazarene) finished off the final one and a third innings with a pair of strikeouts. Overall, the Battle Creek pitching staff held Kenosha to just three runs on seven hits.
The pitching performance was aided by a couple of standout defensive plays. Luke Cheng (Illinois State) made some incredible catches from his shortstop position, including one where he fully extended on a jump to his right to snag a line drive, an amazing diving effort on a pop fly into shallow left center field, and a barehanded play to secure a ground out.
The Jacks defense also had moments of great composure. For example, Jay Adams (Concordia University) initially fumbled a ground ball that was sent his way, but Adams and Anthony Aloisio (Davenport University) stayed calm to complete a 4-3-6 putout of a Kingfish runner that aimed to go from first base to second.
Even though the Battle Creek offense continued to struggle today, the Battle Jacks showed multiple moments where they were at the precipice of an offensive breakthrough. The Jacks totaled four hits on two runs today and could not take advantage of mistakes by Kenosha. The Fish picked off Battle Creek runners on the basepaths on two occasions, halting any potential offensive momentum.
Despite the struggles, the Battle Jacks had the tying run in scoring position in both the 8th and 9th innings. In the 8th, the Battle Jacks struck out and flew out to leave two runners in scoring position. In the 9th, the biggest play of the day for Battle Creek happened. When the Dogs were down to their final strike, Kyle Ratliff (SIUE) belted an RBI double to left center field to drive in Blake Salamon (Northwood University) to get Battle Creek within a single run, 3-2. Unfortunately for the Blue and White, Kenosha secured out number three a few moments later to deliver a heartbreaking defeat to the home team.
With this loss, the Battle Jacks have come upon a rough patch, dropping their last four contests to fall to 5-5 in the second half. Battle Creek is also on a losing skid against Kenosha, dropping four in a row to the Kingfish and five of the seven games in the season series. Despite the setbacks, the Battle Jacks have a big opportunity to get back on track in their doubleheader against Kenosha (3-7 in the 2nd Half) 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.