KOKOMO, IN — Resurgence – that is the theme of the Kalamazoo Growlers heading into the second half of the 2021 Northwoods League season. After an up and down first half, the Growlers will need to show that resurgence in order to secure a playoff spot.
Tonight, the Growlers did just that, battling back from 4-0 down. Unfortunately, they came up just short in a 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Kokomo Jackrabbits.
Left hander Luke Krkovski got the start for Kalamazoo. Although he didn’t have his most effective night command wise, he had to work around both defensive and offensive struggles from his supporting cast.
Krkovski walked six batters, but the defense behind him also made 3 errors. Kokomo lead off hitter Jakob Marsee walked in the first inning, immediately reaching third after Krkovski and catcher Tate Ballestero were crossed up. One batter later, Gavin Grant singled home Marsee and the Jackrabbits had a 1-0.
Kokomo’s second run came off an RBI double Dylan Dennis in the 4th inning. After that, Krkovski was able to settle in and limit any further damage. Unfortunately, in the fifth, another Kalamazoo error and two walks loaded the bases with nobody out and triggered a pitching change. Krkovski only gave up three hits, but walked six, with five strikeouts on the evening.
Stanford left hander Nicolas Lopez came on in relief and pitched well, striking out the side. However, two runs still came across on a walk and hit by pitch.
Kalamazoo’s offense also struggled. In what was Chase Nelson’s second start against the Growlers, he mimicked the success of the first. After 5 innings of three hit baseball at Homer Stryker Field back on June 28, Nelson only allowed two hits through six at Kokomo Municipal Stadium.
The Growlers finally solved the left hander in the top of the seventh. Back-to-back singles from David Coppedge and Nolan McCarthy set the stage for a TJ Williams booming double that one hopped the fence in left center field. The ground rule two-bagger scored Coppedge and put two in scoring position for Brett Barrera. The Stanford infielder faced reliever Adam Christopher, and lifted a fly ball down the left field line. Kokomo outfielder Chris Spillane made a lunging catch, colliding with the fence along the field barrier. Both runners tagged, and after the throw in escaped the Jackrabbits’ cutoff man, Williams never stopped running from second. He scored on the play, cutting the lead to 4-3.
This is as close as the Growlers would come. A scoreless inning from Kyle Salley and two dominant frames from Trey Nordmann were a huge step in the right direction for the Growlers bullpen, but the offense could not fight all the way back, with the tying run being left on third in the ninth inning after a Barrera strikeout.
The Growlers fall to 15-22 on the season, dropping the second half opener. However, the resurgence from Kalamazoo suggests they will make themselves heard from in the playoff race. The Growlers get a chance to move back into the win column tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. ET in the series finale with the Jackrabbits.