BATTLE CREEK, MI – In a double whammy for the history books, the Kalamazoo Growlers bowed 12-2 to the Battle Creek Bombers on Friday night at C.O. Brown Stadium. The win gives the Bombers an 8-0 sweep of the Growlers in the I-94 Rivalry Series presented by the OnStaff Group, while Kalamazoo has now matched a league record with its 50th loss of the season.
The Growlers (6-25, 14-50) join the 2014 Alexandria Blue Anchors (22-50) and both the 2010 Battle Creek Bombers and Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (20-50) for the most defeats in the 22-year history of the Northwoods League. The Bombers (12-17, 25-39), meanwhile, have won a season-high six in a row and have won 10 straight over their Michigan rivals dating back to last year’s series, which Kalamazoo won 5-3.
The trouble started for Kalamazoo from the get-go as the home side tagged Cole Schaefer (Coastal Carolina) for three runs in the first. Dan Swain (Siena) singled and Lin Li (National Taiwan Sport University) doubled, setting up Brennon Lund (BYU) for an RBI single. Tyler Reed (Spring Arbor) drove in another with a base hit, while the third run scored on a double play. Battle Creek added on one in the second when Lund singled home Blake Swann (Florida Southern) to make it 4-0.
Kalamazoo got one run each in the third and the fourth. Justin Fletcher (Northern Illinois) crushed a one-out double to the wall and eventually score when Jordan Stading’s (Houston) groundball passed through the legs of Dre Gleason (Austin Peay) at first base. Johnny Ruiz (Miami) singled to lead off the fourth, then promply stole second and scored on a pair of errors, cutting the Bomber lead to 4-2.
After the Bombers plated one in the fifth, the Battle Creek knockout punch came with a five-run sixth. Swain drew a two-out walk and Li reached on an Angelo Armenta (USC) error at shortstop to chase Schaefer. Marquise Gill (Eastern Michigan) came on for his first mound trip of the year and faced constant pressure from the Bomber hitters, highlighted by a Reed two-run single and a Cayce Bredlau (Austin Peay) two-run double.
Stading pitched the final two innings for the Growlers and allowed a run each in the seventh and eighth innings. The Growlers put a couple runners on against the Bomber bullpen, but the rallies fizzled as did the sunlight at C.O. Brown Stadium.
Dalton Greenwalt (Urbana, 1-0) earned his first win in his first start by allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits in 5.2 innings. He walked two and struck out none on 72 pitches. Schaefer (2-3) was shackled with the loss after allowing seven runs (five earned) in 5.2 frames.
Mitchel Patterson (Spring Arbor) and Donald Hernandez (Riverside City College) made their Battle Creek debuts on the hill and kept the Growlers off the board through the final 3.1 innings.
Stading paced the Kalamazoo attack, going 2-for-3 with a walk. Armenta finished 0-5, snapping his seven-game hitting streak.
Lund was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate for the Bombers, hitting two doubles, scoring three runs, and driving in another three. Reed also picked up three RBIs, while Bredlau plated a pair.
The Growlers now return to Homer Stryker Field for their final two home games of the season against the Green Bay Bullfrogs. First pitch on Saturday is set for 7:05 p.m.
The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 22-year old summer collegiate 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, 120 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League YouTube channel. For more information, visit http://www.northwoodsleague.com.