Growlers Nail Down Rivets in Doubleheader Behind Power Arms and Power Bats
KALAMAZOO, MI — The Kalamazoo Growlers took both legs of the day-night doubleheader with the Rockford Rivets on Thursday. Kalamazoo won the contests 5-4 and 11-1 respectively, behind dominant starting pitching and plenty of home runs.
In the first contest, Braden Forsyth made his first start for Kalamazoo, and was lights out for five frames. The Ole Miss righty struck out seven Rivets, continuing the theme of strong starts against Rockford for the KZoo pitching staff after Anthony Benetti sat down nine batters yesterday.
Both offenses took a while to get going. It was Kalamazoo that struck first, manufacturing runs in three straight innings. A Devin Burkes leadoff double in the fifth took the wind out of starter Payton Hutchings’ sails, and two bunts got the catcher across the dish. Kzoo scored in the sixth on a Brooks Coetzee walk and Luke Storm single; and again in the seventh as TJ Williams doubled and advanced to third on a wild pitch, then David Coppedge popped a sac fly into right field.
The Rivets got a run back in the eighth off of Tanner Knapp, but Henry Gargus responded in a big way. The Stanford first baseman hit his first home run of the season, a 366-foot two-run shot to give the Growlers a 5-1 advantage. It would come in clutch, as Rockford ripped a three-run bomb of its own in the top of the ninth before Garrett Willis worked out of a jam to get the save.
The Kalamazoo offense took significantly less time to build a lead in the night cap. Gargus struck again, this time to the tune of a first inning opposite field grand slam to left center that set the tone for the rest of the contest. Jake Gelof followed up with a two-run tank in the second. Coetzee added a three run blast in the fifth. Finally, Damon Lux hit a solo home run in the eighth to complete a rare home run cycle at Homer Stryker Field. It was the third home run of the summer for Gelof and Lux, while Coetzee and Gargus each enjoyed their second trots of the season.
The long balls were impressive, but so was the start from Hayden Berg. He followed up seven shutout innings against Rockford earlier this month with six lights out frames on Thursday night, allowing only three hits and striking out five. The bullpen was able to record the final nine outs with minimal complications through Trey Nordmann and Nolan Lepkoske.
The Growlers now sit at a record of 19-28 following the sweep. Kalamazoo has a chance to take three of four from Rockford tomorrow night at 6:35 ET.