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Published On: June 13th, 2021

KALAMAZOO, MI — Tanner Knapp had yet another stellar outing on the mound Sunday, but it was not enough, as the Growlers fell to the Traverse City Pit Spitters, 7-2.


It was another packed weekend crowd at Homer Stryker Field. For the first five innings, spectators had their eyes glued to a pitchers duel. Kalamazoo right hander Tanner Knapp was handed the blueprint to success against a dangerous Pit Spitter lineup by Adam Wheaton a night ago. On Saturday, Wheaton went eight shutout innings, surrendering only two hits and striking out 10. 


Knapp worked through some early trouble, stranding three runners through the first two frames. After three innings, Knapp had 7 punchouts of his own, striking out the side in the third. 


On the other side, Jeremy Neff was equally as effective on the mound for Traverse City. The Pit Spitter southpaw yielded only a single hit in the first four innings of play, silencing Kalamazoo bats to the tune of five strikeouts. The only offense of the game in its early stages was a solo home run by Traverse City outfielder Zeb Roos.


Eventually, Knapp’s pitch count became his undoing. Reaching that 110 pitch threshold in the 6th inning, Knapp’s day was done after five and a third, with two runners still out on base. Still, Knapp was able to continue to throw a filthy mix of fastballs and sliders, recording 11 Ks in his outing. 


Unfortunately, the Growlers bullpen was not quite able to mirror this success. Nate Fleischi followed Knapp, making his Growlers debut. In 1.1 IP, Fleischi allowed one of the inherited runners to come home in the sixth on an infield single by Michael Stygles, in addition to allowing two runs on his own line in the 7th via Myles Simington and Roos. Nolan Lepkoske allowed a run in the eighth and Luke Scoles allowed a pair of runs on four hits in the ninth. There were certainly tough bloops that happened to find grass in the later innings, but the Pit Spitters offense was, as it has been all season, clinical in its execution. 


The Growlers bats had one shot to get back into the game. That came in the seventh inning. After Neff left the game, following 6 innings, two hits, no runs and seven strikeouts, Kalamazoo finally had some success against the Traverse City bullpen. After Joe Stewart and Devin Burkes reached on a hit by pitch and walk respectively, Dylan Stanton hit a 2 RBI double off Pit Spitter reliever Cam Shuelke, making the score 4-2 at the time. The Growlers went on to load the bases in the inning, but right hander John Beuckelaere came in to spell the danger, retiring the next three hitters in order to strand the bases loaded. Beuckelaere was locked in, recording the last 9 outs of the game for Traverse City, without allowing a run. 


The loss drops Kalamazoo to 5-8 on the season. Next up for the Growlers are two games in Kenosha against the second place Kingfish. The start time for both contests is 7:05 p.m. ET.