Kalamazoo, Mich. — As usual, the Kalamazoo Growlers hit well in their game against the Wisconsin Woodchucks on Friday night.
But when they needed the knocks the most, the bats were silent. The Growlers had nine hits but stranded 14 runners en route to a 2-0 loss to the Woodchucks. It was just the third time the Growlers have been shut out this season.
In contrast to Thursday's hit-heavy affair with the Woodchucks, Friday's was dominated by the two starters involved: the Growlers' Danny Mokrzycki (St. Cloud State) and Wisconsin's Andy Ravel (Kent State). Mokrzycki only struck out one batter in his 7 1/3 innings, but Woodchucks hitters were largely reduced to sending easy fly balls into the gloves of the Growlers' outfielders.
Ravel was just as effective, working mostly off a well-located fastball and sharp curveball. And as soon as he exited the game, the Growlers' order appeared to wake up a bit. Kalamazoo put men on second and third in the seventh inning when Grant Van Putten (Calvin College) singled and Justin Fletcher (Northern Illinois) bunted for a hit. Both advanced on a throwing error by Woodchucks pitcher Brian Howard (Texas Christian).
But Jesse Puscheck (Canisius) fanned on a high fastball to end that inning. The Growlers loaded the bases the next inning, but Alex Maloney (Ball State) bounced a ball behind the head of pitcher Austin Orewiler (Rice) and the right-hander made an athletic play, barehanding the ball and throwing to first for the out.
What looked to be Kalamazoo's best chance to break the shutout came in the ninth. Van Putten singled and Fletcher doubled off Austin Tribby (Missouri) to put men on second and third with no outs.
Tribby kept with the theme, though, and muscled up by getting a strikeout, a popout and another K to end the game.
The Growlers are home for another two-game series, this time one against the Kenosha Kingfish. Saturday is Consumers Credit Union's Super Saturday, and the Growlers are giving away a John Deere X300 Riding Lawn Mower, presented by Steensma Lawn & Power Equipment. It's also Scout Night at the ballpark, and the first 500 fans receive Thunderstix, presented by Tishhouse Electric.
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 http://www.growlersbaseball.com.