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Published On: July 11th, 2021

KALAMAZOO, MI — The Kalamazoo Growlers finally broke through a cold start to the second half of the Northwoods League season. It took a great outing from Nate Fleischli and some persistent hitting, but KZoo got the split with the Battle Creek Bombers.

The eighth installment of the 2021 I-94 Rivalry began with some early offense. The Bombers plated a run thanks to three walks and a balk, and the Growlers immediately responded. Brooks Coetzee (2-4, 2B, 2 R) singled, stole second, and scored on a pickle play: Devin Burkes (1-3, 2 BB, R) forced a throw down to second, and Coetzee took advantage and tied the game at one.

After his second shaky opening frame in his second start, Fleischli got to work. The righty from Stanford tossed a total of six hitless frames, striking out four and only allowing the one run. Taylor Perrett would allow the only two Bomber base knocks of the game, but worked through a scoreless seventh and eighth. Garrett Willis wrapped up the ninth.

The Growlers’ bats took two more frames to get rolling against BC starter Tanner McNamara. Kalamazoo broke the deadlock in the fourth, as Burkes walked, advanced to third on an error, and scored on a Luke Storm sac fly. The floodgates broke in the fifth. The first seven Growlers hitters reached base, and four of them came around to score. Henry Gargus, David Coppedge, Burkes and Nolan McCarthy all singled, and the latter two had RBIs attached. The final blow came in the eighth, when Battle Creek second baseman Jack Merrifield came in to pitch, and the Growlers hung three hits and three runs on him.

Kalamazoo moves to 16-26 with the win, and is now 6-2 against Battle Creek this season. The Growlers travel to Kokomo tomorrow for a two-game set with the Jackrabbits. First pitch is at 6:30.