By Sedric Granger
Battle Creek, MI – The Battle Creek Battle Jacks walked-off the Kenosha Kingfish, 4-3, in front of over 1700 fans at MCCU Field.
For the second night in a row, the Battle Jacks come back from one run down late in the game to win in exhilarating fashion.
This win did not come easy for the Battle Jacks. The visiting Kingfish started strong out the gate by scoring a pair of runs. However, Battle Creek had an answer in the bottom of the first inning. Jake Allgeyer (Western Illinois) drove in Riley Silva (Nebraska) on a fielder’s choice to cut the deficit in half. Then, Kyle Ratliff (SIUE) hit a sacrifice fly driving in Luke Cheng (Illinois State) to tie the game, 2-2.
From the 2nd inning to the middle of the 9th inning, the defenses on each side dictated the game. Aside from one Kenosha run in the 4th, the Battle Jacks pitching staff had the Kingfish swinging at air. Starting pitcher Tyler McKinstry (Davenport) had a career day on the mound with season highs in both innings pitched with six and strikeouts with seven. Brandon Markarian (U of Indianapolis) was excellent on the hill with two scoreless innings pitched, striking out four Kingfish. Lastly, all-star closing pitcher Dylan Howanitz (West Chester) threw a scoreless 9th inning, striking out one and earning his first win of the season.
“I have been here for so long to the point that I consider the 9th innings my spot,” said Howanitz triumphantly after the game. “That is the spot that I am most comfortable in.”
The great performance from the pitching staff enabled the Battle Creek offense to be in position to just need one big inning to win. For the third time in the four-game series, Kenosha made a crucial fielding error in the bottom of the 9th inning, getting the tying run, Cheng, on the base paths. A few moments later, the Battle Jacks made the Fish pay for their mistake when Allgeyer hammered an RBI single to right field.
“It has been awesome this second half. There is a ton of electricity with both the fans and the team,” said Allgeyer jubilantly after the win. We got off to a slow start, but, when it really mattered, the team came out and got it done! It is really important to not get so obsessed with yesterday’s results, we needed to come back with the same energy today, and we did that.”
It was not guaranteed that Cheng would score on that RBI single due to it being a close play at the plate, but Cheng made magic happen. Despite the throw to home plate beating him by a mile, Cheng skied up in the air like superman to hurdle the Kenosha catcher to tie the game, 3-3. Ratliff carried the Dogs’ momentum into his plate appearance by scorching a clutch double to push the winning run, Allgeyer, into prime scoring position. After that, Coltrane Rubner (Davenport) smoked a baseball over the glove of the Kingfish second baseman to score Allgeyer and clinch the second walk-off victory in a row for the Battle Jacks
“It is awesome to walk it off two nights in a row,” said Rubner with a smile. “Both nights, we really struggled throughout the game, but towards the end we as a team started putting together quality at bats. Shoutout to Alley Cat (Allgeyer) and Rat (Ratliff) for putting me in a position to walk it off.”
With this win, the Battle Jacks improved their record to 8-5 in the second half of the season. The Dogs now carry a three-game win streak into their Saturday matchup against the Rockford Rivets. Since the Rivets (7-6 in second half) are also having a solid start to the half, this matchup will have implications in the Great Lakes East playoff race. Although the playoff race is fun to talk about, the most important takeaway from today is that the Battle Jacks players are creating memories that not only themselves, but the entire Battle Creek community will remember for ages.
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.