Rochester, Minn. – The Kalamazoo Growlers have earned their first series sweep since June 14 as they defeat the Rochester Honkers 8-7.
In a Sunday matinee in which the Growlers (4-8) had all-star pitcher Ryan Smoyer (Notre Dame) on the mound along with three other all-star selections the Honkers (5-8) would get to Smoyer early but not before the Growlers earned the day’s first lead.
In the top of the first, outfielder Nick Yarnall (Pittsburgh) laced an RBI double down the left field line that scored Ryan Spaulding (Ball State) from second to give the Growlers the 1-0 lead. It wouldn’t take long for the Honkers to strike back as a solo home run the bottom half of the inning would tie the game up.
Honkers would score one run in the bottom of the second and sixth to give them a comfortable 3-1 lead heading into the eighth inning. That is when the Growlers would explode for four runs. With runners on second and third, all-star and team captain Jared Kujawa rocketed his first triple of the season to score both runners and tie the game at 3-3.
After an intentional walk, Yarnall would hit a soft pop fly that would drop right in front of the right fielder to score Kujawa from third and give the Growlers their first lead since the first inning. Yarnall would steal second base to once again put himself in scoring position and he did just that. Jesse Puscheck (Cansisus) with a line drive scored Yarnall on a close play at home to give Growlers the 5-3 lead.
Rochester would give their best effort once again as in the bottom of eighth scored one run with a single through the left side and then loaded the bases with just one out. In quite possibly the biggest moment of the game, the Growlers came through as Nick Wernke (West Virginia) who came on in relief cruised one by a Honker batter. Then Justin Fletcher made an amazing backhand flip play at second base to get the second out and give the Growlers the slim 5-4 lead.
For the second night in a row the Honkers would make a strong case for the comeback and this time they would deliver as with the bases loaded a three RBI double cleared the bases and tied the game at 7-7 as the game headed to extra innings.
In what would seem to be a momentum killer, the Growlers came out firing on all cylinders in the top of the tenth as they would load the bases with two outs but a long fly ball to right field just didn’t have the distance as the Honkers would get out of the inning with no harm done. Hall strikeout runners on th corner
The Honkers would have their best opportunity to end the game in the bottom of the tenth but with runners on first and third, Eric Hall (Chicago State) shut the Honkers down. Spaulding led off the top of the eleventh with a double to give the Growlers their best opportunity in extra innings and they would take advantage. In the midst of trying to intentionally walk Karl Sorenson (St. Cloud State), a wild pitch over the catcher’s glove allowed Spaulding to move to third on the play.
It would be a fielder’s choice from Yarnall that would score Spaulding from third and give the Growlers the 8-7 victory in eleven innings. Starter and all-star Ryan Smoyer would get a no decision as he had yet another respectable outing going six innings, giving up ten hits, three runs and struck out just one. Eric Hall earns his first win as a Growler going 1.2 innings giving up no runs on no hits, walking one and striking out one.
Four different Growlers earned RBI’s with Montgomery, Kujawa, and Yarnall having multi-RBI games. In a game in which there could have been multiple players for “Growler of the Night”, the prestigious award goes to Nick Yarnall who went 1-for-5 with three RBI’s and one run scored including the hit that
Now that the long six game road trip is done, the Growlers will head back to the friendly confines of Homer Stryker Field for 9 of their next 10 games which includes games against the Wisconsin Woodchucks, La Crosse Loggers, Kenosha Kingfish, Wisconsin Rapids Rafters and rival Battle Creek Bombers.
With such a long home stand make sure to check out our Promotions Schedule for all of the cool and exciting nights heading your way at Homer Stryker Field.
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.