KALAMAZOO, MI — Three solo bombs, on top of eight lights out frames from Stanford right hander Nate Fleischli, made all the difference for the Kalamazoo Growlers, as they took down the Traverse City Pit Spitters 3-1 Saturday night at Homer Stryker Field.
Unexpected rainfall overnight left plenty of puddles on the field, but after the fantastic efforts of the grounds crew, the surface was pristine as fans packed into the bleachers.
The top of the first was the only real trouble inning for Fleischli through his first two starts, giving up two runs to Traverse City in the opening frame back on July 5. However, this time the right hander got through unscathed. After hitting the lead off batter, Fleischli retired the next three Pit Spitters in order.
The only blemish on Fleischli’s evening came by a fine margin. In the second, Traverse City DH Michael Stygles hit a ball out to right field that hit off the top of the short porch at 315 feet and went over the wall for a solo home run.
Stygles long ball gave the Pit Spitters a 1-0 lead, but was immediately answered in the next half inning.
Luke Storm equalized with a high arching home run to left in the bottom half. Storm’s third long ball of the summer reached an apex of 94 feet and flew 353 over the left center field wall.
Kalamazoo would take the lead in the bottom of the fifth, when David Coppedge hit his first home run of the season – a solo shot down the left field line which gave the Growlers a 2-1 lead.
Finally, Damon Lux added insurance once more in a late game situation. After two home runs in the eighth inning in the past series with Rockford, and a long fly ball that was inches foul last night in the seventh, Lux hit his fourth bomb of the season to deep left center in tonight’s seventh inning, expanding Kalamazoo’s lead to 3-1.
Meanwhile, Fleischli was in cruise control. The Growlers starter had only thrown 84 pitches through seven innings. In the eighth, Fleischli ran into a slight jam. A single and hit by pitch brought the go ahead run to the plate twice in the frame. However, Fleischli saved his best for last, striking out the next two hitters he faced to cap off his outing. Fleischli’s final line saw him surrender six hits and two walks, while striking out five, with only the one run allowed.
Northwoods League All-Star Tanner Knapp closed the door with a 1-2-3 top of the ninth inning, securing his first save and Fleischli’s third victory since joining Kalamazoo’s rotation.
The Growlers record now sits at 20-29, with one last contest with Traverse City before the All-Star break, tomorrow at 1:35 p.m. ET.