LA CROSSE, WI – The Kalamazoo Growlers dropped the first game of their season-ending six-game road trip, falling to the La Crosse Loggers 7-0 on Monday night at Copeland Park.
The win, coupled with Lakeshore’s loss to Battle Creek, sends the Loggers (18-13, 38-28) into the Northwoods League playoffs, joining the Kenosha Kingfish, Madison Mallards, and Green Bay Bullfrogs as the four South Division teams to play in the postseason. The teams’ seeding will be determined over the next week.
Chris Tate (Trinity, TX; 1-1) kept the Growlers (7-27, 15-52) off the board with eight innings of three-hit ball, walking two and striking out eight to win his first start of the season. Andrew Shepherd (Jackson College, 0-4) took the loss by allowing seven runs on 12 hits in five innings. Nolan Gromacki (Missouri) held the Growlers scoreless in the ninth to set off the celebration in western Wisconsin.
La Crosse got an immediate rally against Shepherd, putting up a trio of runs in the bottom of the first inning. Mason McCoy (Illinois Central College/Iowa) singled and went to third on a Will Savage (Columbia) base hit. After Kalamazoo catcher Taylor Hunter (Cleary) threw out Savage on a steal attempt and Brock Lundquist (Long Beach State) walked, Jordan Pearce lined a base hit to bring home McCoy. Chris Baker (Washington) followed up two batters later with a two-run single to make it 3-0.
The run was McCoy’s 77th of the season, extending the Northwoods League single-season record he set last week. He finished the day 3-for-5 with a double, run, and RBI, giving him 105 base-knocks on the year. McCoy is now alone in second place for the league’s single-season hit record, trailing only Luis Rivera, who pounded out 107 hits for Waterloo in 1995.
The Loggers tacked on one in the second on a Savage RBI single, then back-to-back doubles by Ryan Kirby (San Diego) and Baker made it 5-0 in the fifth. La Crosse pushed its lead to seven with RBI singles by Luis Trevino (Navarro College) and McCoy in the fifth.
BJ Butler (Ball State) made his season debut for Kalamazoo and pitched a scoreless sixth inning, allowing one hit and striking out one on 20 pitches. Akaash Agarwal (California) finished up the night with a pair of scoreless three-hit innings, his second straight outing without allowing a run.
Justin Fletcher (Northern Illinois) and Jordan Stading (Houston) each had doubles for Kalamazoo, while Hunter and Marquise Gill (Eastern Michigan) picked up the other two Growler hits.
Savage paced the Logger attack, going 4-for-5 with an RBI. Baker plated three runs, and Trevnio joined McCoy, Savage, and Baker with multiple hits.
After Tuesday’s Big League Dreams Showcase, which will see Justin Fletcher and Nick Wernke (West Virginia) represent Kalamazoo, the Growlers will wrap up their series in La Crosse on Wednesday. First pitch from Copeland Park 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.