By Sedric Granger
Battle Creek, MI – The Traverse City Pit Spitters (39-28, 16-15) used impermeable defense to stifle the Battle Creek Battle Jacks (24-43, 14-19), 5-1.
Aside from one bad inning, the Battle Jacks defense was stellar, holding the Pit Spitters scoreless in seven out of the nine frames.
“We got to get quality starts,” stated Field Manager Chris Clark when asked about what he wants to see from his team before the game. “We need at least four or five innings from our starting pitchers. After that, the bullpen needs to come in and attack the strike zone.”
Starting pitcher Jared Schwartz (Davenport) provided a decent start for the Battle Jacks, yielding four earned runs in five innings of work. In the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th innings, he faced the minimum of just 12 batters. Unfortunately for Schwartz, he gave up a few runs in the inning due to walking three batters and giving up one untimely hit. Overall, it was a winnable outing for Schwartz in a situation where Battle Creek desperately needed a pitcher to go five or more innings.
The defense and bullpen executed well throughout the game. The Blue and White committed zero fielding errors and turned a pair of double plays. There also were some nice putouts by players like Cole Mason (Kellogg Community College), Cooper Middleton (Western Michigan), and Schwartz. Lefty pitcher Brandon Markarian was excellent in relief, giving up only two hits in a season high four-inning appearance. Markarian kept the Pit Spitters guessing, striking out two Traverse City players.
The positional player depth was very thin for the Battle Jacks. Battle Creek only had nine active positional players for the game. The whole lineup struggled to figure out ways to sustain offense throughout the game. The Battle Jacks registered just a single run on three runs. To up the ante, the Pit Spitters not only struck out the Battle Jacks 10 times but retired the side in order in five of the nine innings.
The lone bright spot for the Battle Jacks offense came from a Cooper Middleton RBI single driving in Kyle Ratliff (SIUE) in the 5th. Other than that, the Dogs found themselves being held under two runs against the Cherries for the seventh time this season.
With the Battle Jacks already eliminated from playoff contention, Battle Creek has shifted their focus for the final few games of the season.
“The goals for right now are to stay healthy and have fun,” said Field Manager Chris Clark. “I want my players to enjoy their time together. These guys are going back to school soon and will probably not have a lot of opportunities to see each other after this. I want to make sure the players are continuing to work on the things that they need to work on and get more reps so that they will be ready to rock at their respective colleges.”
Battle Creek finishes the season with four of their last five games at home. The Jacks will continue their final stretch of the 2023 season against the Pit Spitters on Tuesday.
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.