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Growlers bats come alive, down Honkers 9-5 for series split

00000000000000001Kalamazoo, Mich – With the exception of the 14 run explosion against the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters on Tuesday, the Kalamazoo Growlers bats have struggled to drive in runs.

That was not the case on Friday at Homer Stryker Field, as the Growlers totaled fifteen hits and picked up their seventh victory of the season by the score of 9-5 over the Rochester Honkers.

After Rochester (9-9) picked up the first run of the game in the top of the second inning, Kalamazoo (7-11) answered with a flurry of their own. With the bases loaded, Troy Montgomery (Ohio State) yanked an inside pitch from Blake Quinn (Fresno State) into center field to bring in Brett Sunde (Western Michigan), Jared Kujawa (Western Michigan) and Austin Cangelosi (Indiana). 

The top of the Growlers' order would follow Montgomery and would pick up four singles in a row. John Rubino (Eastern Michigan) and Ryan Spaulding (Ball State) would each pick up an RBI, as the Growlers took a comanding 5-1 lead over the Honkers.

"It was my first game back after missing three games, so he blew two fastballs right by me," said Montgomery, the Ohio State product. "I just got one over the plate and squared it up."

Montogomery batted in the nine spot for the first time this season, and Growlers head coach Joe Carbone said he likes to use some speed at the bottom of the lineup for a better turnover.

"We like to get a little more speed at the bottom of the lineup," said Carbone. "We like to have three or four guys come up in a row, so we can steal and hit-and-run to do some things for the guys that aren't power guys."

Rochester would answer with two runs of their own in the top of the third inning, but Spaulding would bring in Montgomery on a single to add another run for the Growlers in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Cangelosi blasted his first homer of the young season and the third at Homer Stryker Field in 2014 to extend the Growlers lead to back to three, after the Honkers were able to score two more runs off Growlers starter Ryan Smoyer (Notre Dame) in the fifth inning.

Overall, Carbone thought his team played well right from the first pitch of the game.

"I thought the guys played real well," said Carbone. "We did some small ball, we drove the ball a bit, and we got some pretty good pitching performances. So, all in all, we played a pretty good game this evening."

Smoyer started his first game of the season for Kalamazoo, lasting 5 1/3 innings before Joshua Buchalski (Michigan State) would take over in relief. The Notre Dame product allowed five runs off 10 hits, while striking out one batter. Smoyer has been solid out of the bullpen for the Growlers in 2014, so starting on Friday was something different for the freshman.

Five different Growlers recored multi-hit games, including Spaulding, Montgomery and Cangelosi. The fifteen hit outburst was the third most hits for the Growlers in a game in 2014. 

Friday was also Van Andel Institute Purple Night at the ballpark, supporting cancer research in the state of Michigan. The bases and home plate were painted purple as well as the foul lines at Homer Stryker Field. A silent auction also took place during the game with fans being able to purchase the special purple jerseys the Growlers sported during the game. A portion of the proceeds from Friday's game went to cancer research as well.

The Growlers will stay in Kalamazoo for the remainder of the weekend as the Green Bay Bullfrogs. Saturday is Star Wars Night at Homer Stryker Field, and the first 500 fans will receive a replica light saber. Firs pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.

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.  For more information, visit