Battle Creek Falls in Fourth of July Doubleheader
The Battle Creek Bombers celebrated the Fourth of July with a doubleheader at Homer Stryker Field, but it was the Kalamazoo Growlers who were celebrating at home after sweeping Battle Creek. Both contests were seven innings long, as Kalamazoo won Game One 13-1 and Game Two 12-7.
The first matchup was slated to begin at approximately 5:05, but weather in the Kalamazoo area pushed back the start time over an hour. When the game did eventually begin, it was Battle Creek who jumped out to an early lead. Kolby Johnson’s sacrifice groundout brought the Bombers in front of Growlers starter Drew Schultz, who was making his Kalamazoo debut. From there, though, the home team took over.
A Zach Gelof single in the bottom of the second tied matters in the second, but Kalamazoo broke the game open in the third. A Jimmy Sullivan grand slam off of Bombers starter Jordan Rhodes gave Kalamazoo the lead 6-1. The Growlers would add two in the fourth and one in the fifth, bringing the lead to 9-1 entering the sixth. Home runs from Clay Owens and Gelof brought the Kalamazoo lead to a dozen.
Schultz dazzled in his first game for the Growlers, spinning seven innings and allowing just one run on two hits.
In the second contest, it was Kalamazoo who got off to a hot start. James Reilly made his debut on the mound for Battle Creek and ran into trouble in his first inning as a Bomber. Kalamazoo sent all nine batters to the plate, registering four hits and two walks while plating four. Battle Creek would respond well, as Michael Lee and Michael Morrissette hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the second inning. The home runs, the first of the year for both players, cut the deficit to one.
The Bombers would tie matters at four in the top of the third, but Kalamazoo answered back in the bottom of the same inning with a sacrifice groundout from Miko Rodriguez. Kalamazoo would jump out ahead again, but had trouble putting away the Bombers. Battle Creek would tie the game at 6-6 and 7-7, but never led. Mitchell Lee came into the game in the bottom of the sixth inning and loaded the bases with two outs for Kalamazoo second baseman Jake Topolski. Topolski hit a swinging bunt down the third base side that resulted in an infield single to give Kalamazoo an 8-7 lead. Rodriguez followed that up with a bases-clearing double, and an RBI single from Shea Kramer finished off a decisive five-run inning for the Growlers. Kalamazoo hung on in the top of the seventh inning to win by five.
The doubleheader was the start of a seven-day road trip for Battle Creek, as they head to Traverse City on Friday for their final series of the year at Pit Spitters Park. Kalamazoo continues their homestand, as they have doubleheaders on both Friday and Saturday with the Kokomo Jackrabbits. With the Growlers’ win, the I-94 Rivalry Cup, presented by The OnStaff Group, is even at four wins apiece.
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