Kalamazoo, Mich. — The Kalamazoo Growlers bats showed up same as always on Sunday, stringing hits together and scoring runs in bunches. In the Growlers' 7-2 win over the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, the fans at Homer Stryker Field just had to wait a little longer than usual.
Rafters pitcher John Kravetz (Illinois) stymied the Growlers' bats through the first four innings, holding them to just one hit in that span. The Rafters scored a run off Ryan Colegate (Ohio Dominican) in the fourth inning to take a 1-0 lead into the fifth.
That frame didn't start much better for Kalamazoo, as Brett Sunde (Western Michigan) struck out looking to lead off. But Nick Yarnall (Pittsburgh) singled past the diving shortstop, and after the Growlers put the hit-and-run on, Jared Kujawa (Western Michigan) hit a high chopper over the third baseman's head for a double.
"He's supposed to hit (the ball) backside, he hit it backside, he hit it hard with good topspin and it bounced over the guy's head," Growlers coach Joe Carbone said of Kujawa's hit. "He executed."
Ryan Bull (Notre Dame) singled to drive in the tying run in Yarnall, and Jesse Puscheck (Canisius) ripped a single to right to drive Kujawa home. Bull scored when the throw from Rafters right fielder Michael Jurgella (St. Cloud State) skipped past the third baseman.
The Growlers put up another trio of runs in the sixth. Bull started the scoring with a double to right field that drove two runs home, and Bull later came home to score a run of his own. The Growlers scored once more, in the eighth inning off a Jeremy Carrell (Wayne State) RBI single, to make the margin 7-2.
"The coaches have been working with us on our approach, and I feel like they've been doing a really good job," Bull said. "I feel like we've been taking some good swings."
Apart from the hiccup in the fourth inning, Colegate was nearly untouchable. The lanky right-hander flashed a solid fastball and breaking ball and showed the ability to control both. He allowed just three hits and had seven strikeouts in six inning pitched.
"I tell the guys, if you get two or three pitches over the plate, you're going to be effective," Carbone said. "And he (Colegate) had his breaking ball and his fastball down."
Ryan Smoyer (Notre Dame) threw three strong innings to finish off the Rafters and get the save. The Growlers play again tomorrow at 7:05 as they square off against the Lakeshore Chinooks.
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. For more information, visit http://www.growlersbaseball.com. – See more at: http://northwoodsleague.com/kalamazoo-growlers/2014/05/30/growlers-topple-bombers-with-help-of-four-run-fourth/#sthash.zxREeXtm.dpuf – See more at: http://northwoodsleague.com/kalamazoo-growlers/2014/06/01/bats-stay-hot-as-growlers-smoke-rafters/#sthash.gE5KDFZ2.dpuf – See more at: http://northwoodsleague.com/kalamazoo-growlers/2014/06/01/whats-happening-with-the-growlers-june-1/#sthash.MKIcT3GS.dpuf