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Published On: June 12th, 2015

Photo by Kimberly MossKALAMAZOO, MI – It takes a single look at the Northwoods League standings to see that the Kalamazoo Growlers are not off to a stellar start in 2015.


A team that begins the season 4-12 needs a win to switch the momentum, badly. A win where your team is trailing 11-1 in the bottom of the ninth, only to score 11 runs of your own to win 12-11? No, that sounds like nonsense. That would be the largest comeback in Northwoods League history.


Well, the Kalamazoo Growlers don’t care about nonsense, then, as they did just that. In an improbable turn of events, Kalamazoo (5-12) bested the Waterloo Bucks (10-7) in a wild, rain delayed nine inning affair, 12-11, with 11 of those runs coming in a ninth inning that not only the players will remember, but the fans in attendance as well.


The walk-off hit came from right fielder John Soteropulos (Cal) as he singled to right field, scoring Marquise Gill (Eastern Michigan).


“The inning before we had the base-loaded and grounded into a double play,” Soteropulos said. “Then (the next inning) we got, like, 80 hits.”


“It was unbelievable, everybody did something good.”


For Soteropulos, and the rest of the Growlers, this win meant more to them than just upping their record to 5-12.


“Everyone found their groove in the last inning,” Soteropulos said. “Hopefully it will push us in the right direction, and it was just a lot, a lot of fun.”


The early innings, again, proved to be troublesome for Kalamazoo as starting pitcher Keegan Baar (Michigan State) gave up five runs, all earned in the third inning before the game was put on hold for a one hour, thirty-nine minute rain delay.


Once the game picked back up, Waterloo wasted no time tacking on more runs as it put up a four spot in the fourth inning to make the game 9-0. A Weston Hatten (Washington State) home run in the seventh put up the Bucks 11-0 and seemed to cement another Growler loss.


The Phiten Necklace that catcher Max Schuman (Utah), well a knockoff according to Soteropulos, bought the day before had other plans for Kalamazoo.


Much how like the Phiten Necklaces worn by the San Francisco Giants helped them win the 2010 World Series, the Phiten Necklace owned by Schuman helped the Growlers win as every Growlers player who got a hit and scored that inning touched the necklace prior to their at bat.


“The Phiten Necklace was batting 1000 that inning,” Soteropulos said.


Out of all the hits in that ninth inning, other than the walk-off by Soteropulos, the biggest hit that came for Kalamazoo was from the bat of Bryce Adams (LSU), who was in one of the biggest slumps on the team, batting less than .100 prior to the start of the game.


With the score 11-6, the bases loaded, the crowd of Homer Stryker Field murmuring of a comeback, Adams came to the plate and ripped a bases clearing triple to make the score 11-9.


The Waterloo bullpen collapsed on itself, as three relievers were used in the ninth inning alone.


For Kalamazoo, as Soteropulos said, this victory was one than a regular win for this struggling squad. Waterloo returns to Kalamazoo the next day for a final game of a two game set, having to face the same exact team who scored 11 runs against them in a single inning.


The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 21-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