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Growlers Drop Home Opener to Kingfish

KALAMAZOO, MI — The Kalamazoo Growlers grinded out at bats late, but that did not stop them from leaving 11 on base on Wednesday night, in a 3-1 to the Kenosha Kingfish.

Through the first series, there was not much pressure put on Growlers bats. Plentiful walks, provided by aggressiveness on the base paths, paved the way for Kalamazoo’s 2-0 start. However, tonight, making the whole trip around the bases was easier said than done against the Kingfish pitching staff.

Starter Dante Guarascio went 5 strong innings of shutout baseball, totaling 7 strikeouts and 1 walk, very much a flipped script from what the Growlers saw in Battle Creek to open the season.

On the other side, Karter Fitzpatrick stuck with the theme of effective starts for Growlers pitchers. The right hander cruised through the first 3 innings. However, after a pair of errors led off the top of the 4th, Kenosha catcher Kirk Liebert homered to right field, propelling the Kingfish to a 3-0 lead.

Despite this, Fitzpatrick wasn’t rattled. He went on to chuck 6 innings, limiting the damage to just those three runs, with only one of them being earned.

However, the Growlers offense continued to struggle, particularly with runners on base. In the bottom of the fifth, Luke Storm was gunned out at home by Kenosha right fielder and former Growler Luke Stephenson.

That was the closest Kalamazoo came to scoring until the 8th inning. With two outs, Storm doubled to center, followed up immediately by a David Coppedge single to right. This time, Storm was safe at the plate, but the relay throw was cut off, and Coppedge was tug out on his way to second, ending the inning.

The Growlers once again threatened in the ninth, loading the bases for Stephen Cullen. The Dyersburg State product was the most consistent offensive producer all night for Kalamazoo, hitting a triple in the first, before taking on two singles later on. However, he was not able to convert on this occasion, as Kingfish closer Nick Meyer retired him to end the game, dropping the Growlers to 2-1 on the season.

The two teams will duel again early Thursday morning, with first pitch scheduled at 11:05 ET.