The Growlers put a scare into the Pit Spitters, but the Great Lakes East division leaders rallied back in the latter innings against Kalamazoo’s bullpen to win the first of a two-game series at Turtle Creek Stadium.
Battle Creek plated one run in its first ups on KZoo starter Elijah Gill thanks to a double to left off the bat of Chris Monroe, and the Growlers started the game strong against Traverse City starter Rylan Tinsley. Kalamazoo put up five runs in the top of the second. The first four batters in the inning reached base; Don Goodes drove in two runs with an RBI single, Ian McCutcheon hit a sacrifice fly and Anthony Catalano ripped an RBI double down the third base line to score two more. Satchell Wilson singled home Catalano. Kalamazoo forced Tinsley out of the game after the second because of the Northwoods League 35-pitch inning rule, which states that after a pitcher has thrown 35 offerings in an inning, they can’t start a new one.
Both offenses went quiet until the fifth, when Traverse City’s Trey Truitt III singled, stole second, and scored on a double from Christian Faust. Again, Kalamazoo responded in the top of the sixth. Don Goodes wore a pitch in the ankle, and was tripled home by McCutcheon, who waited on third for three batters until Stephen Cullen’s opposite field two-bagger.
Gill had worked efficiently through the middle of his outing, throwing a seven-pitch third and a six-pitch fourth. However, a couple of bloop hits in the sixth loaded the bases, and the lefty from Valdosta State was pulled for George Ferguson. The Campbell commit hit his first batter, got two consecutive outs, then threw an offering middle-in to Truitt that was smoked off the wall in right field. Two runs scored, and the Pit Spitters had all the momentum in their favor.
The Growlers bats went dead afterwards, while Traverse City kept rolling. Collin Witzke came in for Ferguson, walked two batters, and gave up a fourth RBI double, this one to Zeb Roos, as TC took the lead and never looked back. Roos came around on a Jake Arnold single. Evan Kiser pitched the eighth for Kalamazoo, giving up two more runs on a walk and three hits. The Growlers, on the other hand, went down 1-2-3 in the last three frames.
Kalamazoo and Traverse City battle again tomorrow, as Trey Nordmann starts for the first time in a Growlers uniform. First pitch from Turtle Creek is at 7:05.