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Growlers Erupt with Six-Run Third, Turn Trio of Twin-Killers to Oust Rafters

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WI – A six-spot in the third inning was enough for the Kalamazoo Growlers, who turned three double plays to end the final three innings and beat the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters 6-4 on Sunday afternoon at Witter Field to snap an eight-game losing streak.

Pitching in front of several family members, TJ Cerven (KVCC/GVSU, 1-4) earned his first win of the season. Cerven allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings of work, walking three and striking out one on a season-high 95 pitches. Adam Hall (Xavier, 2-5) took his third loss of the season against Kalamazoo after allowing six runs in 2.2 innings. Nick Wernke (West Virginia) locked down his sixth save with a scoreless ninth.

Mitch McGeein (Eastern Michigan) opened the scoring for Wisconsin Rapids with a solo home run in the second, the first of two Rafters runs that inning. Kalamazoo then jumped all over Hall. Corey Dempster (USC) was hit by a pitch to start off the third. Marquise Gill (Eastern Michigan) singled and Kory Brown (Bowling Green) walked to load the bases, then Dempster scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-1.

After a John Soteropulos (California) walk and a pair of infield flies, Nick Yarnall (Pittsburgh) drew a free pass to force in a run and tie the game. Jordan Stading (Houston) then laced a single to right to plate two runs, and Alex Gosser (Arkansas) sent another rocket to the right field corner for a two-run double to make it 6-2.

The Rafters (2-12, 23-33) got a pair back in their half of the third as Sam Tolleson (Central Florida) hit a two-run double. Cerven then went into lockdown mode, facing just seven men combined in the fourth and fifth and slamming the door with two on and two out in the sixth.

The Growlers (6-19, 14-44) then turned to the bullpen for the final three. After Adrian Morales (Jackson College/Rochester College) walked the only men he faced, Nathan Coakley (St. Francis, IN) came on to strike out Ryan Cleveland (Georgia Southern). After a wild pitch put Beau Jordan (LSU) on third base, Coakley forced Mitch McGeein (Eastern Michigan) to send a high flyball to left field. The wind caught it and brought Marquise Gill (Eastern Michigan) well in for the catch, and Gill unleashed a strong throw to the plate to down Jordan in plenty of time.

Coakley got the first out of the eighth inning and then turned it over to Alex Kuisel (Academy of Art) with a man on first. Kuisel then forced Michael McCaan (Seattle) to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play to get it to the ninth.

Kalamazoo stranded the bases loaded before Wernke entered for the final three outs. After a hit and two walks loaded the bases with one out, Wernke doubled down and induced another groundball from Cleveland. The Growlers’ second straight 4-6-3 double play nailed down the 27th out.

Stading and Gosser led the way for Kalamazoo with two RBIs each, while Gill went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run.

Tolleson finished 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI for the Rafters. Dmitry Shtyker (Youth of Moscow), Derek Kawlewski (Rhode Island), and Craig Pearcy (Morehead State) kept Wisconsin Rapids in the game with 6.1 innings in relief of Hall.

The Growlers now return home for a two-game set with the Madison Mallards. First pitch on Monday from Homer Stryker Field is set for 7:05 p.m.

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