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Growlers Drop Heartbreaker as Kingfish Walk Off in 11th

KENOSHA, WI – Alex Borglin (Central Michigan) hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Kenosha Kingfish a win over the Kalamazoo Growlers 5-3 on Thursday night at Simmons Field.

With two down and nobody on in the 11th, Zach Weigel (Seton Hall) beat out an infield single to bring up Borglin. The Rochester Hills native then unleashed on a Jake Rouse (Kellogg CC) fastball and sent a rocket over the right field wall to send the partisan crowd of 2,854 into a frenzy.

JD Nielsen (Illinois, 4-1) earned the win with three shutout innings of relief pitching. Rouse (0-1) took the loss after surrendering the walk-off.

The Growlers (8-28, 16-53) got on the board in the top of the fourth inning after an Alex Gosser (Arkansas) one-out walk. John Soteropulos (California) pounded an RBI double to the wall in left center, then Johnny Ruiz (Miami) followed two batters later with a double of his own as Kalamazoo went up 2-0.

The Kingfish (24-9, 47-22) nearly got both runs back in the bottom of the fourth, but with one on and nobody out, a Jeremy Vasquez (Florida) fly ball deep down the right field line was ruled to have drifted foul. Vasquez walked to finish the turn at-bat, but John Brodner (Wright State) grounded into a double play and TJ Cerven (KVCC/GVSU) struck out Jason Scholl (Eastern Illinois) to end the threat.

Cerven kept the Kingfish hitters guessing nearly all night, taking a shutout into the eighth inning. The Growlers tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth when Justin Fletcher (Northern Illinois) led off with a single and eventually scored on Gosser’s sacrifice fly.

Kenosha finally got to Cerven in the bottom of the eighth as Borglin and Eric Filia (UCLA) managed back-to-back one-out singles. Vasquez eventually chased Cerven with a two-run double, then Brodner singled off Nathan Coakley (St. Francis, IN) to plate Vasquez and tie it 3-3.

Cerven’s final line consisted of three runs on nine hits in 7.1 innings. He walked two and struck out five on 92 pitches, and his 7.1 innings marked the longest outing by a Kalamazoo starter this season.

The Kingfish got a two-out runner aboard in the ninth, but Gosser threw out Weigel as he tried to steal second, sending it to extras. From there, each side had the chance to take the lead, but Kenosha left the bases loaded against Nick Wernke (West Virginia) in the 10th, and the Growlers could not bring a man home from third in ether the 10th or 11th, setting up the heroics by Borglin.

Soteropulos paced the Growler bats, going 3-for-5 with a double, run, and RBI. Fletcher and Stading each reached base three times, Fletcher via two hits and a walk and Stading by three singles.

EJ Trapino (Wright State) took a no-decision for the Kingfish, allowing two runs on five hits in 5.1 innings. Borglin finished 2-for-6 with the two-run homer and a pair of runs as the top four Kenosha batters scored all five runs.

The Growlers now rest up for the series finale against the Kingfish on Friday. First pitch from Simmons Field is set for 8:05 p.m. EDT.

The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 22-year old summer collegiate 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, 120 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 (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League YouTube channel. For more information, visit http://www.northwoodsleague.com