LA CROSSE, WI – Behind the unflappable left arm of Alex Kuisel (Academy of Art), the Kalamazoo Growlers dealt a blow to the La Crosse Loggers’ hopes of a home playoff game, winning a 6-1 decision on Wednesday night at Copeland Park.
Kuisel (3-2) made his second and final start his best, allowing just one run on seven hits in 5.2 innings. He walked three and struck out two on 83 pitches. Between two appearances this season, Kuisel’s ERA against the Loggers (19-14, 38-29) stands at a paltry 0.93 (one earned run in 9.2 innings).
Kevin Flemer (Oregon State, 3-1) took the loss by allowing three runs (one earned) on two hits in six innings. Shawn Larner (Northwood) earned his first save with 2.2 scoreless frames to end it.
The Growlers (8-27, 16-52) took a gift run in the top of the first inning, as Angelo Armenta (USC) drew a leadoff walk and stole second. With Jordan Stading at the plate, La Crosse first baseman Zander Clarke (UCLA) misfired on a throw to the bag, plating Armenta to make it 1-0 Kalamazoo.
The Loggers tied it in the fourth when Chris Baker (Washington) scored on a double play, but Kalamazoo seized the lead back immediately in the fifth. Bryce Adams (Delgado CC/LSU) reached on a Jordan Pearce (Nevada) error at third base, then Marquise Gill laced a line drive to right field that got by Ryan Kirby (San Diego) and trickled to the wall. Adams scored on Gill’s triple, then Drew Farmer (Western Michigan) golfed a flyball single down the left field line to give the Growlers a 3-1 lead.
Kuisel departed with a man on and two out in the sixth, bringing on Nathan Coakley (St. Francis, IN), who allowed two more baserunners before getting Mason McCoy (Illinois CC/Iowa) to bounce into a bases-loaded fielder’s choice.
Larner entered with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh and promptly forced Kirby to bounce into a fielder’s choice at the plate. Luis Trevnio (Navarro College) then lined out to center field to end the threat. Larner walked two in the eighth but induced a strikeout from Jordan Zimmerman (Mesa CC/Michigan State) to get out of the jam.
Kalamazoo tacked on a few insurance runs in the ninth. John Soteropulos (California) pounded a one-out double to right center, then after back-to-back walks, Armenta blasted a bases-clearing two-sacker to left center, giving the game its final margin and Larner the extra push to get through the final three outs.
Gill paced the Growler offense by going 2-for-3 with a triple, two runs, and one driven in, while Armenta finished 1-for-4 with a double, run, three RBIs, and a stolen base.
McCoy doubled in the fifth for his 106th hit of the season. The Logger leadoff man is now one hit shy of tying Luis Rivera’s (Waterloo, 1995) single-season league record of 107.
The Growlers now head cross-state to face the first-place Kenosha Kingfish on Thursday night. First pitch from Simmons Field is set for 8:05 p.m. EDT.
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, 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 http://www.northwoodsleague.com.