Growlers use late rally to fell Loggers
Kalamazoo, Mich. — The La Crosse Loggers chose Justin Fletcher over Troy Montgomery, and they ended up paying with a loss.
With two outs in the seventh inning, trailing 4-3, and Jesse Puscheck (Canisius) on second, La Crosse chose to walk Montgomery (Ohio State) and face Fletcher (Northern Illinois), rather than risk him getting his fourth hit of the game and driving the tying run home.
"I'm going to tell you the truth and say that I would have done the same thing if I'm that opposing team's manager," Fletcher said. "Troy was having a great day at the plate…plus, they had the righty-lefty matchup, which is not favorable for the pitcher."
But Fletcher worked a two-strike count off Loggers pitcher Zack Walsh (Valparaiso) and slugged a double deep into the left-center gap that ended up driving both Montgomery and Puscheck home.
"He grooved me a fastball, and luckily, I didn't miss it," Fletcher said.
The ensuing 5-4 lead would prove to be decisive, especially after Jared Kujawa (Western Michigan) expanded it to 6-4 with a double to right-center, and it helped the Growlers take a 6-5 win over La Crosse on Friday and seal the series sweep.
La Crosse took the first lead of the game with two runs off Growlers starter Ryan Colegate in the top of the third third inning. But Kalamazoo responded in short order, getting an RBI triple from Troy Montgomery (Ohio State) and a subsequent sacrifice fly from Justin Fletcher (Northern Illinois) in the bottom of the frame.
The Growlers took a 3-2 lead in the fifth when John Brodner (Wright State) walked, advanced to third and scored on Montgomery's single to center. But La Crosse would tie it up in the top of the sixth and take a 4-3 lead in the seventh. The Growlers would come back with the seventh-inning rally to take the decisive lead.
Danny Mokrzycki (St. Cloud State) threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning, but he allowed three straight hits to open the ninth and give way to John Schreiber (Northwestern Ohio). Schreiber got one out off a sacrifice bunt, and after he walked the next batter, he induced a 1-2-3 double play capped off by a laser throw to first from catcher Ryan Lidge (Notre Dame) to seal the win.
The Growlers are in Battle Creek on Saturday to take on the rival Battle Creek Bombers, but they return to Homer Stryker Field on Sunday for another matchup with the Bombers. That game is Carnival Night and will also feature the ECCU team poster giveaway.
The Kalamazoo Growlers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 21st season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods 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 115 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (DET) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (STL) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League YouTube channel. For more information, visit http://www.growlersbaseball.com.