The Pit Spitters had scored double digit runs in five of their first 11 games. Tonight, they were blanked. Adam Wheaton spun a gem, tossing eight innings of shutout ball, only allowing two hits and striking out 10 Traverse City hitters. Kalamazoo’s offense just did enough to plate two runs and earn the Growlers a gutsy 2-0 victory at Homer Stryker Field.
In the two games up north, Traverse City caused trouble in the opening frame, getting baserunners around to score both times. However, that was not the case tonight, as Wheaton retired the top three hitters in order. The righty didn’t travel to Turtle Creek Stadium, instead staying back to get ready for his start, and the extra rest seemed to pay off.
“I had a way better fastball this week than last week,” Wheaton said. “We were working the fastball-cutter mix, and then middle of the game I started working in the changeup, and that helped to keep them off-balance.”
Wheaton said he threw a bullpen on Thursday, and did some light tossing yesterday. The Lamar commit felt like he “could’t throw 84” warming up, but then mentioned that feeling usually leads to his best outings.
The Growlers threatened in both the first and second, but couldn’t plate runs in either frame. Don Goodes roped a double in the first inning, but was left stranded, and a baserunning blunder in the second ended the inning. However, Wheaton wasn’t fazed at the lack of early run support. TC second baseman Camden Traficante was the only hitter who could match the Kalamazoo pitcheer, walking in the third and singling in the sixth. Unlike the first two games, Wheaton controlled the running game, picking over to first a multitude of times to keep the Pit Spitter runners guessing.
“I’m not usually a throw over guy,” Wheaton said. “I’ve worked on that move. There were hit-and-run chances, there were running chances, so I was just trying to keep them off-balance as much as I could.”
Wheaton threw to first baseman Anthony Calarco ____ times with Traficante on first in the third frame. It was the most he’d ever thrown over.
The KZoo offense scraped together its first run in the bottom of the third, as Goodes wore a pitch in the back from Traverse City starter Jacob Marcus, stole second, then came around to score on a Calarco infield single; the Northwestern Wildcat hit a chopper up the middle which TC shortstop Trey Yunger couldn’t glove. Traficante subsequently tried to backpick Goodes at third and threw the ball to the fence.
Armed with the lead, Wheaton continued dealing. He struck out two in the fourth and fanned the side in the fifth. Traficante was left stranded in the sixth and the middle of the order was retired in the bottom of the seventh (Wheaton picked off Yunger at first to end the inning). The Growlers got insurance in the seventh when Goodes hit a rope in the right center gap to score Ian McCutcheon, and as Wheaton hit the 100-pitch mark in the eighth, meaning his time on the hill was done, he K’d two more hitters and got Traficante to hit a dribbler to first.
George Ferguson came in to close the door in the ninth after getting knocked around in game one, and responded well. Two runners reached base with one out, and the future Campbell Camel buckled down, getting the final two outs in quick succession.
Kalamazoo goes for the split tomorrow at 1:35.