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Published On: June 13th, 2014

Kalamazoo, Mich. — The Kalamazoo Growlers have improved their defense markedly since the error-heavy early games of the season. But as any coach or fan of the game will begrudgingly admit, there's no defense for a walk. 

The Growlers went into the ninth inning tied 2-2 with the Rochester Honkers. But after five walks from reliever Donnie Eaton (Michigan), the Honkers (9-8) led, 4-2, and the Growlers (6-11) were unable to surmount the deficit in the bottom of the ninth. 

"You never want to blame a game on umpires, that's not an excuse," Growlers assistant coach Cody Piechocki said. "Donnie didn't miss by much. He attacked hitters. Calls didn't go our way, and that's the way baseball is."

Kalamazoo took the first lead of the game in the first inning when Cody Leichman (Central Michigan) flaired a ball into shallow left, allowing Jared Kujawa (Western Michigan) to race home from second base and give the Growlers a 1-0 lead. 

Rochester responded in the top of the second with an RBI groundout from Travis Chabot (Chabot JC) and RBI single from Ryan Boldt (Nebraska) to give them a 2-1 lead. 

Growlers pitchers Ryan Colegate (Ohio Dominican) and Devon Bronson (Eastern Michigan) proceeded to settle in and combined for six scoreless innings. Kalamazoo tied the game in the bottom of the seventh when Nick Yarnall (Pittsburgh) doubled to the left-field wall, allowing Ryan Spaulding (Ball State) to score.

Eaton threw an easy eighth inning, but the tall, sidewinding righty's control left him in the ninth, and Rochester took a 4-2 advantage into the bottom of the inning. Carl Jameson (Missouri Baptist) shut the door on the Growlers to snap the Honkers' five-game losing streak.

Kalamazoo's pitching staff continues to struggle with throwing strikes, but Piechocki attributes some of those difficulties to growing pains of pitchers adjusting to new roles. 

"We have relievers starting and we have starters relieving," Piechocki said. "So (they are) learning how to prepare yourself for those situations, come in and throw strikes when you need to."

The Growlers face the Honkers again on Friday at 7:05. It is Purple Community Night, presented by Van Andel Institute, and fans will have the chance to bid for and win special purple Growlers jerseys in an in-game silent auction, with proceeds supporting cancer research. Homer Stryker Field will be outfitted with purple basepaths and purple bases. Fans can also enjoy postgame fireworks, presented by Walmart-Sam's Club.

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