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Growlers use huge 9th inning to down Chucks for fourth time in 2016

Wausau, WI — The Kalamazoo Growlers trailed 8-1 entering the 5th inning. They then trailed 9-5 entering the 9th inning. And yet none of that seemed to matter as the Growlers used an incredible 7-run 9th inning rally to beat the Wisconsin Woodchucks 12-10 on Wednesday night at Athletic Park. After the win, the Growlers still stand alone atop the Northwoods League South Standings and have now won their first four games against the Woodchucks this season.

The Growlers began the top of the 9th inning trailing 9-5 and having only collected six hits in the game. Dan Leckie (Lafayette College) led off the frame by singling, and Connor Olson (Concordia St. Paul) followed with a hit of his own. After Dalton Combs (Huntington) walked to load the bases, Kasey Cooper (Arkansas-Fort Smith) came in to pinch-hit for Michael Crowley (Huntington) with no outs. Cooper delivered a huge game-tying opposite field grand-slam that sailed over the right field fence and made the score 9-9. The Growlers were not done in the frame, however, as RBI singles by Dan Robinson (Central Michigan) and Leckie (who batted twice in the frame) gave the Growlers a 12-9 heading to the bottom of the 9th.

The Woodchucks would not go down easy, as Ruben Cardenas would hit a solo home run to begin the inning, and the Woodchucks would soon load the bases with two outs. Hayden Brauser (Pratt C.C.) would work his way out of the jam, however, striking out Cole Daily to finish off the comeback win and earn the save for the Growlers.

Devin Pellien (Nova Southeastern) went two innings, allowing just one run and one hit while striking out four to earn the win and improve to 2-0. Gordon Cardenas, whom the Growlers did most of their damage on in the top of the 9th, took the loss to fall to 1-1. Brauser picked up his second save of the season.

The Woodchucks scored the first four runs of the game, but the Growlers would add one in the fourth, as Crowley’s sacrifice fly scored Leckie. The Woodchucks would then score four in the bottom of the frame to take an 8-1 lead. The Growlers responded, however, as Robinson scored on a passed ball in the fifth, and then Robinson and Nick Hutchins (Southern Illinois) had RBI’s as part of a 3-run 6th for the Growlers that cut the deficit to 8-5.

The Growlers bats then went quiet, however, as the Woodchucks added what seemed like an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th inning to take a 9-5 lead before the Growlers would explode for seven runs in the top of the 9th.

Robinson extended his hitting streak to 14 games with his RBI single in the top of the 9th. He had been hitless in four at-bats leading up to that plate appearance. Leckie, Olson and Connor Kopach (Southern Illinois) each had multi-hit games for the Growlers who tallied 11 hits in all. Cooper’s grand slam was the first for the Growlers this season. This was the first loss for the Woodchucks when leading after eight innings this season.

The Growlers will now make the trip to Wisconsin Rapids for a two game series with the Rafters to close out their four-game road trip. Tanner Andrews (Purdue) is slated to be on the mound tomorrow night for the Growlers with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 from Witter Field.

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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, more than 140 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 (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (CHC). All league games are viewable via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com.