Kalamazoo, Mich. – In a wild, 13-inning affair, the Kalamazoo Growlers dropped the first game of their series against the Kenosha Kingfish, 7-6.
Only four total runs would score through the first nine at Homer Stryker as Growlers’ starter Sam Carlisle would work through the first two batters of the sixth inning before a walk and double would pull him out of the game. In his third outing for Kalamazoo, Carlisle would finish with 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, and 7 K. In his third straight start of four-plus innings with less than two earned runs given up, the righty from Portage dropped his season ERA to a team second-best 1.93.
Offensively, the Growlers would control an early 2-0 lead after a first-inning RBI single from Gabe Springer and then an error to score Springer two innings later. K-Zoo would be shut down until extras as three different Kingfish pitchers relieved the starter in Stipp to keep it within a manageable distance.
Kenosha would start their comeback in the sixth, following Carlisle being taken out of the ballgame on a double from Brandon Nigh, Vytas Valincius would bring home Bobby Atkinson on a sac fly to bring the game back within one.
Atkinson (Heartland Community College) would be the one to even the ballgame up in the top of the eighth, sending a solo shot to the opposite field and into the Miller Lite Trap. Kalamazoo had a chance in the bottom of the ninth with two runners on and just one out with the game-winning run in Lawson Knight at second but back-to-back strikeouts would leave both runners stranded and send the ballgame to extras.
Kenosha would grab their first lead of the game in the top of the tenth off of a two-RBI single from Brandon Nigh before Kalamazoo would come storming back once again in the bottom of the inning. An RBI single from Savi Delgado was followed up by one of the craziest plays of the evening. Pinch-hitting for Jake O’Connell, Joey Winters put down a bunt that was thrown away into right field by catcher Miguel Useche scored Savi Delgado but Luke Mitchell, trying to stretch it all of the way around from first was cut down at home plate, keeping the game tied. The Growlers would still have a chance with the game-winning runner at third and still just one out but couldn’t finish it off. Fernandes, pinch-running for Winters was struck down at the plate on a fielder’s choice by Korbin Griffin for the second out. Following a hit-by-pitch to Lawson Knight and an error off the bat of Cam Conley, Will Furniss would leave the bases-loaded chance stranded on an inning-ending flyout to left, keeping it tied at four.
Both teams would trade a run in the eleventh before getting shut down in the 12th but the 13th is where it all unraveled. After getting the first two outs of the inning, an error on Ben Bach at third would once again score the go-ahead run for the Kingfish. Cole Gober would tack on another with an RBI single to center and the Growlers once again would be forced to find another late-inning rally.
The Growlers would score one after a wild pitch and a ground out but a flyout from Bach and strikeout from John Kramer would end it, dropping the Growlers below .500 for the first time since opening day. Kalamazoo had chances, stranding 17 runners out in traffic, their most of the season. Tucker Shalley’s four innings of relief work would do the job for Kenosha. With just the lone strikeout, Shalley found his second win of the season out of the pen.
The Growlers and Kingfish will match up once again tonight at 6:35 p.m. at Homer Stryker Field as K-Zoo looks for redemption. The game can also be watched live on the NWL Network.