By Sedric Granger
Battle Creek, MI – The Battle Creek Battle Jacks (22-36, 12-12) scored two in the ninth to edge out the Kokomo Jackrabbits (22-36, 9-15), 8-7, in front of an electric crowd of over 2300 at MCCU Field.
This game was an absolute roller coaster from start to finish with five lead changes. Battle Creek got on the board first in the bottom of the third inning when Riley Silva (Nebraska) scored on a wild pitch and Jt Sokolove (Illinois State) scored on a sacrifice fly from Luke Cheng (Illinois State). Going into the 4th, the Battle Jacks had a two-run advantage.
Kokomo seized all the momentum in the top of the 4th inning, plating four runs in the frame. Two of the runs came off of a fielding error by the Battle Jacks while the others came from RBI base hits from the Rabbits. By the time the away half of the inning was up, Kokomo went from down by two to leading the game, 4-2.
The Blue and White did not take Kokomo’s response lightly. In the bottom of the 4th, the Battle Jacks drew three walks in a row to load the bases, giving the Dogs a great chance to cash in. First, Sokolove drove in Nikolas Clark (Davenport) on an RBI single. In the following plate appearance, Cheng drove in Sebastian Kuhns (Huntington) to tie the game again. Lastly, Brock Daniels (Missouri) capped off the inning with a booming two-RBI double, scoring Silva and Sokolove. At the end of the frame, Battle Creek restored their two-run advantage, 6-4.
The bullpen pitchers took over the game starting in the 5th inning. Anthony Aloisio (Davenport) shined out of the bullpen with three and two-thirds innings of work out of the bullpen, tying his season high for innings pitched. He shut down Kokomo from the 5th through the 7th innings. Unfortunately, the bullpen for the Rabbits stepped up as well to stifle the Battle Jacks offense, keeping the score at 6-4 all the way until late in the game.
In the 8th and 9th innings, the visiting Jackrabbits plated three runs on a clutch two-RBI double and a sacrifice fly to put the pressure on Battle Creek. The Battle Jacks were only 3-7 in one-run games to this point in the season. As a result, the odds were stacked against the home team.
Despite being down 7-6 as well as down to their final out in the bottom of the 9th, Battle Creek refused to give in. In his last game as a Battle Jack in 2023, Blake McRae sparked the two-out rally.
“We were down to the last out,” said McRae when asked about his perspective of the 9th inning. “I was trying to get a base runner on for the team and put a great at bat together. It may not have been the greatest swing, but I got rewarded for working hard all day. That has been the story of the summer.”
McRae lofted a single that dropped in the right field grass a few feet in front of the sprinting Kokomo outfielder. That dynamic play sparked the boisterous crowd at MCCU Field, giving Battle Creek some much needed momentum. Kyle Ratliff (SIUE), the winning run, got on base for Battle Creek in the following plate appearance. Lastly, Jay Adams (Concordia) drilled a two-RBI single to right field to clinch the exciting win for the Battle Jacks, 8-7.
“That was a wild one,” remarked Field Manager Chris Clark with a smile after the game. “It was a game full of back and forths, ups and downs, and lows and highs. It was good for us as a team to be resilient. Jay Adams was the right guy at the right time in the batter’s box for us. I am really proud of the team for finding a way to win tonight. I hope this can lead to a few more wins down the line.”
The clutch hit from Adams was his second walk-off game winner of the year. His other one came on July 13th in a 3-2 victory against the Kenosha Kingfish.
With this win, the Battle Jacks are now just three-and-a-half games back from first place with fourteen games still to go. Battle Creek is only seven wins away from eclipsing their best individual half record since the 2022 Battle Jacks rebrand. Battle Creek will look to keep up their winning ways on the road against Traverse City on Saturday.
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.