Kalamazoo, MI — After dropping a tight contest last night, the Kalamazoo Growlers (18-17, 2-1) responded in a massive way with a pair of 13-1 and 12-7 victories over the rival Battle Creek Bombers (14-24, 1-2) at Homer Stryker Field Thursday evening. The Growlers now even the 2019 I-94 Rivalry series at 4-4.
After trailing early, the Growlers blasted the Bombers with 13 straight runs to cruise to the 12-run triumph. Battle Creek grabbed the early 1-0 lead in the opening frame on a fielder’s choice; however, Kalamazoo quickly knotted the score at 1-1 on a RBI single from Zack Gelof (Virginia).
The Growlers quickly took back the lead in the third on Gabe Rivera’s (Univ of Miami) RBI single to put the hosts in front 2-1. Jimmy Sullivan (Virginia) then blasted a grand slam over the left field wall to make it 6-1.
Kalamazoo added a pair of insurance runs on an Austin Knight (Tennessee) RBI single and a Rivera sacrifice fly to stretch the lead to 8-1. The Growlers plate another run in the fifth on Sullivan’s RBI single to make it 9-1.
Kalamazoo’s bats remained scorching hot in the with a four-spot in the sixth to extend the margin to 13-1. The inning began on a Knight sacrifice fly to center to push the advantage to 10-1. The Growlers then smacked back-to-back dingers on a two-run blast from Clay Owens (USC) and a solo shot by Gelof.
Growlers starting pitcher Drew Schultz (Delta College) went the distance in his Kalamazoo debut, tossing all seven innings with one run allowed on two hits and one strikeout. Bombers starter Jordan Rhodes took the loss, falling to 1-3.
The Growlers jumped ahead quickly in the first inning with four runs on four hits, starting with a Rivera RBI single and a RBI double by Owens to make it 2-0. Soon after, the UVA freshman come through again with a sacrifice fly from Sullivan and a Gelof RBI triple to stretch the lead to 4-0.
Battle Creek responds in the ensuing frame with back-to-back dingers to trim the deficit down to 4-3. Both teams exchange runs in the third. The Bombers knot the score at 4-4 on a RBI double from Rhett McCall, but the Growlers take back the lead in the bottom frame as Gelof scored from third base on a Jake Topolski (Duke) fielder’s choice.
The Growlers tallied an insurance run in the fifth on a RBI base-knock by Owens; however, a two-run double by Battle Creek leveled the score at 6-6. The back-and-forth affair continued when Kalamazoo answered again with a Rudy Maxwell (Duke) RBI infield single to push the hosts back in front 7-6.
Battle Creek continued to fight at the plate as Josh Sears roped a RBI single to tie the contest again at 7-7. Kalamazoo grabbed the 8-7 lead in the home half of the sixth on the game-winning single from Topolski. The Growlers left no doubt with four huge insurance runs on a three-run double courtesy of Miko Rodriguez (Texas A&M) and a Shea Kramer (Utah) RBI single to extend the margin to five runs.
Kalamazoo reliever Eamon Horwedel (Ohio Univ.) earned the win, improving to 2-0. Bombers relief pitcher Mitchell Lee took the loss, falling to 1-3.
The Kalamazoo Growlers remain at home tomorrow evening for a doubleheader against the Kokomo Jackrabbits. First pitch for game one is slated for a 5:05 p.m. start.
The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Currently in its’ 26th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 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, over 200 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (MIA). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.