KALAMAZOO, MI – The Kalamazoo Growlers were able to finish what ended up being their most successful season in franchise history on a high note with a 6-5 extra-innings victory over the Rockford Rivets this evening. Scoring in this one was done in very different ways in this one as Kalamazoo got single runs in six separate frames, while Rockford used a big five run third inning to give the Growlers a scare that they were able to overcome.
TJ Marik (Austin Peay) got it going for Kalamazoo offensively in the second inning with a base knock that brought Darius Coldiron (Coker College) across the plate to give the Growlers an early 1-0 lead.
The third inning was when the Rivets attempted to blow this game open. Rockford took advantage of four hits along with three Kalamazoo errors in the inning to get all five of their runs home in the inning. Nick Hutchins (Southern Illinois) once again came up big for the Growlers as he followed up the big top half of the inning with an RBI double that brought Connor Kopach (Southern Illinois) home to keep some life in the first base dugout.
The Growlers were able to scratch across additional runs in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings to keep them in the ballgame. Kopach did the job by himself in the fifth with a towering home run over the Miller Lite Party Zone in left field. Kasey Cooper (Arkansas Fort Smith) found a pitch of his own to drive in the sixth that also flew over the wall in left to cut the deficit down to just one. Hutchins did what he has done all summer for Kalamazoo in the seventh when he ripped a ball into the outfield grass and plated his Saluki teammate, Kopach, to tie the game at five run apiece.
Jay Smith (Kalamazoo Valley CC) came on in the bottom of the eighth inning for Kalamazoo and this substitution prooved to be essential in the extra frame. Sam Griggs (Southern Indiana) lead off the tenth inning with a base hit and then moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt by Marik. Smith then stepped up to the plate on a mission and sent the 1-0 fastball into the outfield grass to bring home Griggs and win the game for the Kalamazoo Growlers.
Zach Vitkuske (Muskegon CC) was stellar on the mound for Kalamazoo. He was able to finish eight innings whie allowing just two earned runs (five total) on six hits while striking out two.
The Growlers were lead at the plate by Cooper, Hutchins, and Kopach this evening as the three combined to go 10 for 13 with two home runs, four RBIs, and four runs scored. Kopach also stole three more bases in this evening's game to take his final, record breaking, stolen base count up over 50.
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, more than 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 or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store and set the Growlers as your favorite team.