KALAMAZOO, MI — Damon Lux stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Lux had reached base twice in the game, and seven times in the series, but hadn’t faced a situation of this magnitude in his short time win a Growlers uniform. Bombers reliever Davis Burgin had walked the bases loaded, but struck out Stephen Cullen on a 3-2 slider to put the pressure on the junior from Duke. However, the Blue Devil had a plan ready.
“At first, I was going to go up and take until I got a strike,” Lux said. “But then when I got 1-0, I knew he was going to come back in with a fastball… I didn’t think he was going with a slider because he didn’t want to get behind. I saw a good fastball, and I just tried to stay low and keep it up the middle.”
Lux ripped a 1-1 fastball up the middle, off the back of Burgin and into the infield grass in front of Battle Creek’s Edward Johnson. The third baseman was able to barehand the ball and get it to first, but Lux hustled down the line. Blake Dunn scored, and Kalamazoo won 4-3.
Lux was able to beat the throw to first, but couldn’t avoid the mob of ecstatic Growlers in right field. He’s been in Kalamazoo for less than a week, and the bonds are already forming.
“I’m really liking it. This is my fifth day here, and I’ve already gotten to know the guys quicker than my last summer in the Woods [with the Bismarck Larks in 2019]. The guys are awesome.”
It was a another team effort to pull out Kalamazoo’s fifth straight victory. Starter Austin Strickland went five innings, his longest outing of the year, but left the game down 3-1 after giving up a line drive three-run home run to BC designated hitter Mason Sykes in the top of the second. The Growlers got one back when Stephen Cullen scored on a Devin Burkes RBI double, but the bats went cold until Strickland’s day ended.
A returning Growler got the rally started in the bottom of the fifth. Brooks Coetzee singled, advanced to second on an Anthony Calarco walk, and came around to score on a Luke Storm base hit. Calarco made it to third on the knock, and scored on some tricky base running. Storm ran on a delayed steal to second, got in a pickle, and the distraction allowed the Northwestern first baseman to score.
The game was tied, and it was up to the Growlers bullpen to hold the lead. A combination of Mason Millett and Kyle Salley did just that. The newcomers combined for four innings, only allowed one hit, and struck out two, inducing weak contact all the way twice through the Bombers order. Salley gave up the only hit, a Sykes double, in the ninth, but stranded him on third.
So the table was set for the Growlers offense, and Lux delivered the goods. Kzoo moves to 10-12 on the season, one game behind Kokomo for third place.
Kalamazoo heads to Rockford tomorrow for the first of a six-game road trip. First pitch is at 7:05 ET.