KALAMAZOO, MI – One might’ve thought they were experiencing déjà vu if they tuned into the two games between the Kalamazoo Growlers and Madison Mallards. Both followed extremely similar scripts: Madison used an early barrage of offense to get ahead, Kalamazoo fought back but the Mallards pulled away at the end.
Friday’s contest began with Madison’s middle of the order starting where they left off a night ago. Bryant Shellenbarger (2-4, BB R) and Cam Cratic both singled to begin the top of the second. Shellenbarger scored on a KZoo error, and Cratic touched home on an RBI singled from eight-hole hitter Nick Gonzalez (2-3, HBP, R).
The Growlers responded with a solo shot from TJ Williams, his third of the year. The Notre Dame outfielder squared up a fastball from Mallards starter Ryan O’Hara (4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 K), and sent it on the roof of the Bear Trap. Williams would also single in the fourth.
However, Madison came right back, teeing off on the fastball of Kalamazoo starter Hayden Berg (5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 4 K). NWL doubles leader Alex Iadisernia led off the third with a base knock, the next two batters walked, Tyler Dean scored a run on a fielder’s choice, and Michael Furman drove in Cratic. It was 4-1 Madison; then in the fourth, leadoff hitter Matt Scannell ripped a 3-2 heater off of the Bear Cave in right-center to add an extra tally. Scannell had home runs and outfield assists in both games.
There was still some fight left in the Kalamazoo bats, and it showed in the fifth against reliever Tyrell Hudson. David Coppedge singled and was driven in by Jake Gelof. The next batter Devin Burkes hit a double down the third-base line, scoring Gelof, and while Scannell tried to call time at the left field fence, claiming the ball was unretrievable, Burkes came around to score. It was 5-4 Kalamazoo, and the energy was rising in Homer Stryker Field.
Unfortunately, the bullpen couldn’t keep the game close. Nolan Lepkoske hit two batters and walked a third in the seventh, and two came around to score thanks to a balk and a wild pitch from Kyle Salley, who relieved Lepkoske. Kalamazoo’s offense was dormant against the rest of the Madison Bullpen.
The Growlers are 0-4 in the second half of the NWL season. First pitch of a two-game home series against Battle Creek tomorrow is at 6:35.