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Published On: July 31st, 2023

By Sedric Granger

Battle Creek, MI – Although the Battle Creek Battle Jacks (23-38, 13-14) pushed the Kalamazoo Growlers (39-20, 18-7) to the brink, the Growlers held on to win 11-10 behind a 14-hit night. 

On account of the fact that Kalamazoo would win the Climax Solar I-94 Rivalry Cup with just one more victory over Battle Creek, there were high stakes for this showdown at MCCU Field.

Even though the Battle Jacks never led in the game, they showed an unquenchable effort to fight until the end. Kalamazoo immediately started the game off with a four-run 1st inning. Battle Creek responded well with two runs of their own in the home half of the 1st. Anthony Aloisio (Davenport) drove in Riley Silva (Nebraska) to kick off the 10-run night. In the next plate appearance, Coltrane Rubner (Davenport) drove home Jt Sokolove (Illinois State) on an RBI single to add another run to the Dogs’ total. At the end of the 1st inning, the Growlers held an advantage, 4-2.

Despite the fact that Kalamazoo continued to rain in hits, the Battle Jacks offense truly lived up to their city name by battling back. Down 7-2 in the 4th inning, Battle Creek kicked off a scoring bonanza when Jay Adams (Concordia) drove in Kyle Ratliff (SIUE) on an RBI single. A few moments later, Adams got the Jacks closer when he scored on a Growler’s fielding error. After Silva both got on base and made some dynamic plays on the base paths, Sokolove continued to stay hot at the plate by driving in Silva on an RBI single. Lastly, Aloisio kept up his momentum from the first inning by driving in Sokolove on an RBI base hit. The Battle Jacks were a well-oiled machine in the 4th inning, narrowing the deficit down to one, 7-6. 

Kalamazoo once again put Battle Creek in an adverse situation by rattling off four runs of their own in the top of the 5th inning. Once again, the Jacks found themselves down by five, 11-6. If the Dogs wanted to come back, it would all start with keeping the Growlers at 11 runs on defense. Brandon Markarian and Jake Jekielek (Northwood University) each stepped up in a big way. Markarian contributed three and one-third terrific innings out of the bullpen with a trio of strikeouts. As for Jekielek, the submarine-style pitcher shined in his final appearance as a Battle Jacks in 2023, shutting out the Growlers in his one inning of work.

With the pitching rounding into form late in the game, the Battle Creek offense aimed to rally to tie the game. Silva drove in Ratliff on an RBI single in the bottom of the 5th inning to start chipping away at Kalamazoo’s lead. The Battle Jacks continued to build on their rally in the 7th inning when Spencer Verburg (Central Michigan) hit an RBI single driving in Ratliff. The Dogs then upped the ante in the 8th inning behind two big plays. First, Aloisio scorched an RBI hit to score Sokolove. Lastly, Rubner drove in Jake Allgeyer (Southern Illinois) on a well-placed base hit. Going into the 9th inning, the Battle Jacks were right on the Growlers’ heals, trailing 11-10.

Unfortunately for the Jacks, their rally ended in the bottom of the 9th when Kalamazoo retired the side in order to clinch the Climax Solar I-94 Rivalry Cup. Since the Growlers now lead the season series 7-2, they have officially clinched sole possession of the rivalry trophy due to their only being 12 matchups per season.

Despite the loss, the Battle Jacks had a lot to be proud of offensively. This was the first time that they eclipsed double digit runs against the first-place, defending NWL champion Kalamazoo Growlers. In addition, eight out of the nine batters in the Battle Jacks’ order registered base hits on the night. Aloisio, Rubner, Adams, and Ratliff each all registered two-hit nights. 

Battle Creek will have a day off to regroup and prepare for their next I-94 Rivalry game against Kalamazoo on Wednesday. 


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 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.