Northwoods League Milestone Celebrated in Kalamazoo
KALAMAZOO, MI – 3,211 fans packed Homer Stryker Field for the 24th Annual Northwoods League All-Star Game in the league’s 25th season of play. Players and front office representatives from around the Northwoods gathered in Kalamazoo to celebrate the anniversary.
The South Division won the game 2-1, but the day included lots of other events to make the experience a great one in Kalamazoo.
A combine in front of MLB scouts started the day for the All Stars, participating in fielding and throwing drills as well as hitting and batting practice.
Following the combine came a highly anticipated Home Run Derby which included the league leaders in home runs with Kyle McDonald at 13 and Tyler Plantier at 12. When the dust settled in the derby, it was hometown favorite Zach Daniels of the Kalamazoo Growlers who launched three home runs to take home the crown. The South beat the North in that competition as well, lead by Daniels to an 8-5 victory.
Players then took part in a Junior All-Star Baseball Challenge in center field, throwing batting practice to young baseball players. The event was presented by Cole Automotive.
Former Professional Baseball Manager Terry Collins opened the ball game by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
The game was a pitcher’s duel from the beginning. The two teams only combined for 11 hits and three runs, most of which came in the later innings. The pitching staffs combined to strikeout 18 batters.
The South struck first in the sixth inning, when Madison Mallard Jake Randa drove a double into the left center field gap scoring his Mallards teammate Trevor Schweke. Randa led the Northwoods League in doubles, entering the game with 21, and followed through on his reputation as a strong double hitter with another earlier in the fourth inning.
Jack Dunn came through with the biggest hit of the game in the eighth inning with a solo home run in left field. Dunn is yet to homer on the season for his team, the Lakeshore Chinooks, so his blast came as a slight shock to everyone watching. The home run and a clean defensive performance was enough to earn Dunn MVP of the game honors.
The North tried to claw their way back into the game in the ninth on a solo home run from Scott Ogrin off of Lenny Gwizdala.
Phillip Sikes took the lost for the North allowing just one run on the Dunn home run.
Dalton Wiggins came in to pitch the final out for the South and complete the save. Mason McKreaken was the pitcher on record for the South and picked up the win in .2 innings of work on the mound.
The entire league has the day off tomorrow before returning to the field for the final few weeks of the season.
The Kalamazoo Growlers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Entering its 25th anniversary season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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, 190 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (TOR). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.growlersbaseball.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Growlers as your favorite team.