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Growlers Sweep Double Header Against Chinooks Thanks to Dominance on the Mound

MEQUON, WI — Staring a one-run lead dead in the eye, with the bases loaded and two outs, the Growlers bullpen did not blink… twice. Kalamazoo reverses it’s fortunes, winning two games against the Lakeshore Chinooks, the first game ending 3-2 and the second finishing 1-0.

Neither game of this Saturday doubleheader from Kapco Park was your traditional 9-inning affair. The opener was a continuation of the June 9 contest at Homer Stryker Field that was postponed due to rain in the top of the fourth inning.

Action picked up right where it left off 10 days ago when the storms began in Kalamazoo. Lakeshore, who continued to serve as the road team, even at their home venue, led 2-0 and had a runner on first with one out.

With the departure of temp players, and the shuffling of pitching staffs, both lineups looked slightly different from the game’s original installment – most notably with the personnel on the mound.

The Growlers turned to left-hander Luke Krkovski, the only arm yet to allow a run this season. After allowing a walk and a hit once play restarted, right fielder T.J. Williams, another new insertion, taking the place of Ian McCutcheon, threw out the inherited runner, Brennen Bales, at home to end the inning.

The next half inning, Kalamazoo turned the game on its head, greeting Lakeshore pitcher Jack Kartsonas to the tune of 4 hits and 3 runs. Stephen Cullen came around to score the first run of the inning on an error, before the replacements in the lineup continued to make the difference. The aforementioned Williams singled with one out. With two down, Anthony Calarco, who took the DH spot initially held by Cade Stanton on June 9, hit a 2 RBI single to give the Growlers a 3-2 lead.

From there, Krkovski was dominant, retiring 12 of the next 14 hitters faced. However, Krkovski ran into a little trouble in the 9th. The first two runners reached before the southpaw retired the next two faced. After an intentional walk to load the bases, Krkovski sat down pinch hitter Griffin Doersching on strikes to end the ballgame.

Krkovski’s final line saw him go 5.2 IP scoreless, allowing 4 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 6 to snap the Growlers’ five game losing streak.

Game two on the day, a scheduled seven-inning affair, was another pitcher’s duel. Adam Wheaton, coming off 8 shutout innings against Traverse City a week ago, was locked in once again. Mr. Growler allowed only 2 hits through the scheduled 7 innings, only allowing 2 runners into scoring position.

Wheaton’s effectiveness was matched by The Chinooks’ trio of Joe Glassey, Ben Riffe and Dorsey Chatham, who only allowed a pair of Growlers hits, both by Nolan McCarthy in the first 7 frames.

Thus, the shortened back end went to extra innings. The Growlers took advantage of the Northwoods League runner on second rule which is customary in extra innings. After a well-placed bunt single by Blake Dunn, a wild pitch scored Williams, who was that starting runner, from third for the game’s only run.

In the bottom of the 8th, Wheaton came out, but was up against the Northwoods League cap of 110 pitches. He reached his limit after retiring the lead off hitter in Collin Matthews, but walked his final two batters, loading the bases. Still, Wheaton was able to a remarkable 7.1 scoreless, while striking out 7.

He turned the ball over to Braden Forsyth, making only his second Growlers’ appearance, with no margin for error. Forsyth rose to the occasion, spinning his breaking ball early for strikes, punching out both batters faced to end the game and strand the bases loaded.

Today’s results improve Kalamazoo’s record to 7-12. They also might just serve as huge turning points for the pitching staff in what still is a young season. The Growlers look for a weekend sweep tomorrow afternoon at 2:35 p.m. ET from Kapco Park.