By Sedric Granger
Traverse City, MI – The Battle Creek Battle Jacks (23-36, 13-12) defeated the Traverse City Pit Spitters (34-26,12-12) at Turtle Creek Stadium, 8-6, behind a pair of four-run innings.
Ryan Wilwers (MidAmerica Nazarene) got the start in the game, going a season high four and two-thirds innings pitched with three strikeouts. Despite some early offense from Traverse City, Wilwers managed the game well, limiting the talented Pit Spitters offense to just three earned runs. The effort on the mound kept the Battle Jacks in striking distance.
In the 5th inning, the Battle Jacks came alive. Spencer Verburg (Central Michigan) got Battle Creek on the board with an RBI single driving in Coltrane Rubner (Davenport). In the next plate appearance, Nikolas Clark (Davenport) hit a sacrifice fly, driving in Jay Adams (Concordia). A few moments later, the biggest play of the inning came from Jt Sokolove when he mashed a home run to left field.
“I did not hit a home run even in batting practice this season, so it was sweet to hit one out of here,” said Sokolove triumphantly. “The support from the guys in the dugout was awesome. We are a brotherhood, if something happens for one of us, we always celebrate with each other.”
Sokolove’s two-run shot over the left field wall not only gave the Battle Jacks the lead, 4-2, but it also marked his first home run of the season. Turtle Creek Stadium is a difficult place to hit a home run at. To put that in perspective, there have only been three home runs by Traverse City at their home ballpark all season. Sokolove’s power is excellent, and he showcased that attribute in the 5th inning.
After a pair of Pit Spitters runs, the Battle Jacks offense had another burst in the 7th inning. Sokolove broke the tie with a two-rbi single driving in Verburg and Clark. Later in the frame, Anthony Aloisio (Davenport) drove in Riley Silva (Nebraska) and Sokolove. The onslaught of offense gave Battle Creek a good advantage, 8-4, going into the 8th inning.
Cole Giesige (Albion College) and Jack Sielatycki (Purdue Northwest) each provided valuable innings on the mound for the Blue and White. In his first appearance as a Battle Jack, Geisige earned the win, yielding zero earned runs and striking out one in one and a third innings of work. Sielatycki also shined out of the bullpen with two and two-thirds innings with a strikeout and zero earned runs given up. The two bullpen arms did a terrific job of keeping the Pit Spitters at bay from the 6th inning to the 9th.
The Battle Jacks got into a little bit of a jam in the 9th inning with a few Traverse City players getting on base. With two runners on, the Pit Spitters scorched a baseball that would have surely been a base hit. However, Aloisio made a terrific diving play to not only pick up a crucial out but to hold the two runners on the base paths.
“It was a big play,” said Aloisio with a smile after the victory. “There were some runners on and I wanted to make sure to keep the ball in the infield. I wanted to lay it all on the line to get an out there.”
Although a few runs would score in the 9th, the Battle Jacks staved off Traverse City for an impressive road win, 8-6. Jake Jekielek (Northwood University) earned his third save of the season with some help from the defense behind him. Battle Creek successfully silenced the Saturday crowd of over 2800 fans at Turtle Creek Stadium.
With this win, the Battle Jacks leapfrog the Pit Spitters for third place in the Great Lakes East. In order to continue moving up the standings, Battle Creek will aim to keep up their winning ways. The Battle Jacks take on Traverse City again on Sunday.
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.