By Sedric Granger
Wausau, WI – The Battle Creek Battle Jacks (20-31, 10-7) erased an eight-run deficit to stun the Wausau Woodchucks (27-23, 7-8) at Wausau Athletics Park, 10-8.
This marked the largest comeback of the season for the Battle Creek Battle Jacks. The previous high was a four-run comeback against the Kenosha Kingfish on June 21.
Wausau rolled through the first four innings of the game. After dropping game one of the seven inning doubleheader, the Chucks were determined to split the day, and it looked like they were well on their way. Wausau scored five runs in the 1st inning and three runs in the 2nd inning to take a commanding lead, 8-0. The strong offense was complemented by a starting pitcher who stifled the Battle Jacks bats, throwing four no hit innings.
In the 5th inning, the game completely flipped on its head. Brock Daniels (Missouri) led off the frame with a slicing double through the Woodchuck defense. The Jacks would proceed to get one more runner on via a walk and then fly out and strikeout in the following two at bats, making the margin of error very slim.
Despite there being two-outs in the inning, Battle Creek showcased unbelievable grit and composure to keep the inning alive. Spencer Verburg (Central Michigan) hit a two-RBI single, driving in Daniels and Kyle Ratliff (SIUE) to get the Battle Jacks on the board. The following four batters all drew walks from the Wausau pitchers to get the Jacks within striking distance, 8-4. With the bases loaded, Daniels once again stepped up to the plate in the inning. In one of the most clutch moments of the entire season, the redshirt freshman out of the University of Missouri torched a grand slam over the centerfield wall for his first home run of the season, tying the game 8-8.
“It felt good. I saw a fast ball high up in the zone and wanted to put a good swing on it,” said Daniels triumphantly after the game. “I got all of it. It was awesome getting to celebrate that moment with the guys.”
With the Battle Jacks surging, the Woodchucks lost all momentum both offensively and defensively. It was only a matter of time before Battle Creek would take the lead, and they did just that in the 6th inning. Blake McRae (Eastern Michigan) scored the go-ahead run on a bases loaded hit by pitch. In the next plate appearance, Blake Salamon nailed an RBI single to drive in Jt Sokolove (Illinois State) to double the Dogs’ lead, 10-8.
The Blue and White found themselves three outs away from closing the game in the 7th when closing pitcher Jake Jekielek (Northwood) came into the game to pitch. After Wausau registered back-to-back game winners late in the game last week, Jekielek made sure that the Chucks would not repeat history.
“I trust my stuff when I am going in there,” said Jekielek confidently when asked about his mentality late in games. “I throw my stuff over the plate and give my defense a shot to make a big play behind me. My pitches move a lot, so I play that to my advantage as well.”
After the lead off runner got on base, Jekielek used his submarine style pitching motion to strike out three Woodchucks in a row to secure both his second save of the season and the comeback win for the Battle Jacks.
With this win, the Battle Jacks swept their doubleheader against Wausau and are now 4-3 against Great Lakes West teams. In addition, the Battle Jacks clinched a series win against the Chucks. They will look for a series sweep of Wausau on Wednesday.
“I am super proud of the team for staying in it,” said Field Manager Chris Clark when asked about his team’s perseverance. “Even though they were no-hit into the 5th inning, the team figured out a way to win in the final couple of innings. It is a big deal, and we feel good about it”
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.