KALAMAZOO, MI — Despite five strong innings of work from Adam Wheaton, the Kalamazoo Growlers still fell 10-1 in a lopsided affair with the Kokomo Jackrabbits on Sunday, due to a lapse in pitching and defense through the sixth inning.
The afternoon started out promising, as just over 1,700 fans packed the stands at Homer Stryker Field. Wheaton was able to work himself out of trouble early and often, including stranding the bases loaded in the second. Wheaton mixed his fastball and off speed options effectively once more, leading to 9 strikeouts on the afternoon.
However, Kokomo starter Evan Elliot matched Wheaton blow for blow. Elliot leaned heavily on a 95 MPH fastball en route to four shutout innings.
The lone run through the first five frames went to the Jackrabbits, as Raymond Hilbrich singled home Ryan Ellis in the fifth.
Wheaton totaled 92 pitches through five and ended his afternoon there. This passed the baton to the Growlers bullpen, which already pitched eight innings a night ago against Battle Creek.
The lack of depth became evident, as Luke Pappas and Nolan Lepkoske, who just arrived to the team yesterday, were forced into action much earlier than anticipated. Both relievers struggled to find the strike zone. In total, the duo yielded four walks, three hits, two hit batters and allowed eight runs in the frame. The defense didn’t exactly help the bullpen’s cause. There were three errors in the inning, and four in the game for the Growlers.
Kokomo would add on one additional run, with Dylan Dennis coming home on a wild pitch, as Grant Jebbia and Luke Scoles combined to finish the afternoon.
The lone Kalamazoo spark on offense came from a Stephen Cullen solo home run in the eighth inning, one of seven Growlers hits in the contest, as they fell 10-1.
This loss drops the Growlers record to 3-4 on the season. Kalamazoo will look to salvage a split on Monday, with first pitch at 11:05 a.m. ET from Homer Stryker Field.