Wausau, Wis. – The Kalamazoo Growlers unfortunately were on the losing end of a 15 inning contest against the Wisconsin Woodchucks as they fell, 10-9. The game was the longest game in the Northwoods League this season and the 38 combined hits was also the most the Northwoods League has seen this year.
The Growlers jumped out to an early lead as newly acquired first basemen, Bryce Harman (East Carolina) recorded his first RBI of the season when he scored Troy Montgomery (Ohio State) from second to give the Growlers the 1-0 lead. The Woodchucks (18-11) would answer back in the bottom of the second when Woodchucks hitter Paul DeJong hit a solo home run.
Kalamazoo (11-19) would take the lead in the top of the fourth as Ryan Lidge (Notre Dame) drove around Jared Kujawa (Western Michigan) from third to give the Growlers a 2-1 lead. The Growlers would score two more runs in the inning highlighted by Ryan Spaulding (Ball State) recording his team leading 18th RBI to give the Growlers an edge at 4-1.
The Growlers would hold an 8-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth when things started to get interesting. The Woodchucks would score five runs on five hits in the bottom of the inning to advance the game to extra innings. This was only the beginning of what turned into be a long night of baseball.
After giving up five runs and seemingly giving up all momentum, the Growlers would earn it all right back on one swing of the bat by Montgomery as he picked the most opportune time to smash his first home run of the season to give the Growlers a 9-8 lead in the top of the 10th.
The Woodchucks would yet again battle back in the bottom of the 10th as with a runner on third base and just one out, the Growlers were struck with misfortunate again as the umps called a balk on pitcher Shane Bryant (Purdue) to score the tying run. Kalamazoo looked to capitalize in the top of the 11th with runners on first and second with two outs, but the Woodchucks would get out of the jam.
The game would hit a stalemate until the bottom of the 14th, as the Woodchucks jacked the bases loaded with just one out but Bryant hunkered down and shut the door on Wisconsin as he pitched out of yet another bases loaded jam.
The longest game in the Northwoods League this year would end in the bottom of the 15th when Kevin Connolly popped a single to centerfield that scored the runner from second as he just barely got in ahead of the tag.
Even though Shane Bryant was tagged with the loss, his effort tonight kept Kalamazoo alive in extra innings. Bryant pitch six innings, allowing just two runs on eight hits while striking out four. The bats were hot for the Growlers as for the second night in a row, each Growler in the line-up would record a hit. Even more impressive was the fact that eight of the 10 Growler hitters that stepped into the batter’s box registered an RBI.
The Grotto’s “Growler of the Game” goes to Troy Montgomery who went 4-for-7 with a home run, one RBI and three runs scored. Jesse Puscheck is also considered for the honor going 3-for-6 with two RBI’s and one run scored.
The Growlers will be back in action tomorrow with game two of the series against the Wisconsin Woodchucks as first pitch is set for 8:05 p.m. RHP Nick Wernke (West Virginia) is projected to be the starter. In five starts this season he is 0-3 with a 6.11 ERA.
The Kalamazoo Growlers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 21st season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 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, more than 115 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (DET) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (STL) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League YouTube channel.