Latest News

Published On: June 28th, 2021

KALAMAZOO, MI — After 6 extremely well-pitched innings, the Kalamazoo Growlers bullpen ran out of gas in the tank, falling to the Kokomo Jackrabbits, 7-2.

The Growlers first home game back at Homer Stryker Field, following 6 straight on the road, did not get off to the freshest of starts. Storms were rolling through the area right before game time, so first pitch was moved back about 30 minutes.

Following the delay, both starters settled in rather nicely through one inning. However, Kalamazoo starter Austin Strickland ran into some trouble in the top of the second. A single, hit by pitch and two walks allowed a run to cross for Kokomo, but more importantly, the Jackrabbits forced Strickland to throw over 35 pitches in the frame. Despite not giving up any overly hard contact, Strickland’s evening had to be done following the frame, per Northwoods League rules. It would be up to the Growlers’ struggling bullpen to keep the Kokomo bats under control. On Monday night, they were up to the challenge.

Stanford right hander Nate Fleischli, who was coming off two shutout innings on the road trip in Rockford, delivered four innings of one run baseball. Despite allowing three hits in his opening frame of work, Fleischli mainly conceded ground balls not hit particularly hard through the wet Homer Stryker infield. He continued this effectiveness and kept the Growlers within striking distance through the middle innings.

Fleischli then deferred to Taylor Parrett. The newest Growler arrival had a pretty effective debut through two innings, retiring the first six Jackrabbits he faced – two via the strikeout.

Meanwhile, runs were hard to come by for the Kalamazoo offense. Kokomo starter Chris Nelson pitched a very effective first five innings of the ballgame. The Growlers only run off him came via a single from Brooks Coetzee, who reached third after attempting to steal second on a pickoff move by Nelson. Jackrabbits first baseman Dylan Dennis sailed the throw over to second, which allowed Coetzee to take third. The Notre Dame outfielder eventually came home to score on a sacrifice fly recorded by Brett Barrera, another Growler making his season debut.

Cooper Owmans took over for Nelson, who nearly looked unhittable through two innings of relief, striking out five. Eventually, he showed signs of weakness when Satchell Wilson and Blake Dunn led off the eighth with back-to-back singles. A sharply hit ground ball by Damon Lux triggered another Kokomo overthrow, this time by third baseman Michael Snyder. Wilson came around to score on the play and tie the game at 2.

Then came the top of the ninth.  Parrett came out for his third inning of work and ran into some trouble. Three softly hit balls by the Jackrabbits loaded the bases and turned the lineup over. Eventually Kokomo’s core hitters greeted Parrett second time around, leading to a five run top of the ninth. The Growlers were unable to respond in the bottom half, dropping the series opener.

The Growlers look to salvage a split on Tuesday night against the Jackrabbits, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. ET.