Bombers Walk Off the Growlers and Split the I-94 Cup
BATTLE CREEK, MI., – The Battle Creek Bombers had a chance to sweep the Growlers at home and split the season series against their I-94 rival Tuesday night. For the first time in the Bombers 2021 season, Battle Creek played extra innings, and got their first walk off of the season and won 6-5.
The Bombers got on the board early with a run in the bottom of the first. Cameron Dalrymple led off with a bunt single. He then stole second, and on a throw to second from the catcher, he stole third and scored on an error. Kalamazoo had the power bats out though. Leading off the top of the second, Jake Gelof hit a solo home run to tie the ball game up. Gelof would finish 3-for-5 and missed a triple for the cycle.
Battle Creek captured the lead again in the bottom on the second. Jimmy Wressel got on base with a one out single. He moved to second on a ground ball and then Trevor Patterson singled him home for a 2-1 lead. The Growlers got their second solo home run in the top of third to tie it yet again. Damon Lux drove a ball out to center field just like Gelof and it disappeared over the wall. The game was tied again, this time 2-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, Bombers tacked on two more and took the lead. Patterson led off with a double, Brady Held walked, and a single by Matt Catalfo scored Patterson and both Catalfo and Held advanced into scoring position on the throw. Two at bats later and a wild pitch scored Held from third and Battle Creek had a 4-2 lead.
In the top of the seventh, Kalamazoo clawed back. Henry Gargus singled to lead off the inning. He advanced to third on an error on a pick off throw and stood 90 feet away. Dominic Pitelli recorded an RBI single to drive Gargus in and make it 4-3 Bombers. Pitelli stole second, and Nolan McCarthy hit a ground ball that took a bad hop and went through Brian Zapp at third base. Pitelli scored and the game was tied.
The interesting aspect of the game was Held for Battle Creek. He started on the mound and batted third. Held went six and a third innings allowing three runs, only two of them earned, and struck out four batters. Lucas Bixby came in relief and Held moved to right field. Bixby pitched the final three and two thirds’ innings for Battle Creek. He gave up two runs, only one earned, on one hit and two strike outs. The duo of Held and Bixby would team up later on.
After a scoreless ninth, the game went to extras. With a runner starting at second base in extra innings, Kalamazoo scored the runner with an RBI single with two outs from Alex Tappen. This gave the Growlers their first lead of the ball game.
In the bottom of the tenth, a sacrifice bunt by Bixby to move the runner to third became a fielder’s choice and had runners at the corners with no outs. Kalamazoo elected to threw to third and Cristian Tejeda slid in safe. Dalrymple then dropped down another bunt and drove in Tejeda as the throw home was high and the tag not applied in time. The game was tied at 5-5 and Patterson singled to left field to load the bases and Held stepped in. The scene was set. Battle Creek was in their first extra inning game of 2021, the bases were loaded with no outs in a tie game, the winning run was the current pitcher Bixby at third, and the starting pitcher Held was at the plate. The Bombers were trying to tie up the season series against their rivals 6-6 and split the I-94 Cup. On a 1-0 pitch, Held drove a ball to left field, the catch was made, Bixby tagged, and the relay to the plate was high and Bixby slid in safe to win the game. Battle Creek walked it off 6-5 to win four straight games against Kalamazoo and split the season series. Bombers will now head into the second to last series of the season as they welcome the Kokomo Jackrabbits to town on Wednesday. First pitch at C. O. Brown Stadium is set for 6:35 PM.
By Josh Baker