Kalamazoo, Mich. – The Kalamazoo Growlers have had their share of pitching troubles during their inaugural season as a member of the Northwoods League, and Wednesday night's contest against the Wisconsin Woodchucks at Homer Stryker Field was more of the same.
This time it was eight walks that hampered the Growlers (4-10), especially after they took the lead in the bottom of the seventh. The Woodchucks (10-6) got to the Growlers bullpen the very next inning, adding two runs and then one more insurance run in the ninth to give them their 10th victory of the season and the sweep, 6-4.
Justin Fletcher (Northern Illinois) recorded two hits for Kalamazoo, as he went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored from the nine spot in the lineup. The shortstop has been on fire lately despite his team's struggles. Fletcher sports a slash line of .429/.469/.464 over the past week, including seven runs scored which is tied for the team lead over the past week.
For the second consecutive night, the Woodchucks played long ball in the first inning, this time off the bat of cleanup hitter Paul Dejong (Illinois State). The sophomore's two-out, two-run bomb over the left field wall at Homer Stryker Field was his league-leading 14th homer of the season and gave Wisconsin the early 2-0 lead on the road.
After a John Brodner (Wright State) infield single in the bottom of the third to give the Growlers their first baserunner of the game, Justin Fletcher's (Northern Illinois) fly ball to right field landed in fair territory and the shortstop hustled into second base for a double. A poor throw from right field allowed Brodner to cross home plate, while Fletcher advanced to third on the error. Troy Montgomery (Ohio State) followed Fletcher and grounded out to the second baseman, but the grounder from the speedy center fielder was enough to plate Fletcher from third to tie the game, 2-2.
With men on second and third and a right-hander on the mound for the Woodchucks in the seventh inning, Growlers head coach Joe Carbone called the left-handed hitting L.K. Thompson's (Wright State) number to pinch hit for Ryan Spaulding (Ball State). Thompson delivered with a two-out, two-run single past the Woodchucks first baseman to give the Growlers the 4-3 lead.
Greyson Granger (Kalamazoo Valley CC) toed the rubber for Kalamazoo on Wednesday for his second start of the season after being a late addition to the Growlers. The left-hander's second start in the Northwoods League was much better than his first, as he allowed two runs off three hits through 4 1/3 innings but back-to-back walks ended Granger's night. A third run was tacked onto Granger's final line after Eric Hall (Chicago State) committed a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the top of the fifth inning.
The Growlers look to put a tally in the win column on Thursday, as they return to action against the LaCrosse Loggers for Thirsty Thursday at Homer Stryker FIeld. It will also be Military Appreciation Night presented by Wal-Mart/Sam's Club with an active duty or military veterans will receive a complimentary ticket. The first 250 fans who are 21-and-older to enter the ballparkwill also receive a Miller Lite bottle opener keychain.
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.