Butler’s second complete game leads Growlers to win over Mallards
Kalamazoo, MI – BJ Butler (Ball State) has been known as “the streak stopper” for the Kalamazoo Growlers this season. The right hander's brilliance on the mound has carried the Growlers to a host of big wins and Monday night proved to be no different. Behind Butler’s second complete game of the season and some timely hitting, the Kalamazoo Growlers picked up a 5-3 win over the Madison Mallards to earn a split of the series at Homer Stryker Field and remain tied for first place atop the Northwoods League South Division second half standings.
In going the distance, Butler, who was named a Northwoods League All-Star last week, allowed three runs on eight hits, while striking out three and walking none. He began the game by retiring the first seven Mallards batters he faced and did not allow a run until the fourth inning. Butler threw 98 pitches, with 69 of them being strikes. As of Monday night, he is the only pitcher in the Northwoods League to toss two complete games, with his other coming in a 9-0 shutout win over the Battle Creek Bombers.
The Growlers (24-18) got the scoring under way with Sam Griggs (Southern Indiana) knocking in Connor Kopach (Southern Illinois) with a two out double in the third. The Mallards (26-16) would answer with a run of their own in the top of the fourth, and would plate one run in both the 5th and 6th innings respectively. With the Growlers trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the 7th, Nick Hutchins (Southern Illinois) walked to begin the frame. Brandon Gomez (Nova Southeastern) then proceeded to hit a game-tying two-run home run to left-center field.
In the bottom of the 8th, with the game tied 3-3, Kopach singled to left to begin the frame. After Griggs walked, an errant throw from the Mallards catcher Cam Comer (Virginia) would score Kopach, with Griggs advancing to third base. Hutchins would drive in Griggs with a single to give the Growlers a two run lead headed to the final frame.
Butler proceeded to retire three of the four Mallards batters he faced to end the game and finish up his second complete game of the season.
The Growlers have now split both series with the Mallards this season. The two teams will meet next for a series at Warner Park in Madison on July 21. Gomez hit his second home run of the season, and Hutchins drove in his team leading 23rd RBI. After walking no batters in the game, Butler has struck out 38 while walking just three in his six starts. Camden Duzenack (Dallas Baptist) went 0-4 and had his consecutive on-base streak of 21 games snapped. The Mallards fell to 3-3 and one game back of the log-jam of four teams atop the Northwoods League South second half standings. They are now two games back of the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters for the overall best record in the South Division.
The Growlers will now travel to Minnesota for interleague play as they entertain the Mankato Moondogs for a two game set. Grant Wolfram (Central Michigan) is slated to start the first game against the MoonDogs with first pitch slated for 7:05 CDT at Franklin Rogers Park.
The Kalamazoo Growlers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 23rd 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, 150 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (CHC). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.growlersbaseball.com.