BATTLE CREEK, MI — The number 16 has been significant for Growlers in this budding season. In last night’s opener, it was 16 strikeouts from the Kalamazoo pitching staff. Tonight, it was 16 walks to Growlers batters, leading to 13 runs as K-Zoo (2-0) took down Battle Creek (0-2) 13-1 Wednesday at C.O. Brown Stadium.
Seven of the 16 free passes led to nine runs in the second and third innings. Right fielder Don Goodes (1-3, BB, HBP) and second basemen David Coppedge (1-3) both touched home in the second frame for the first of three times on the night, and center fielder Ian McCutcheon walked for the second of four times. Coppedge and catcher Devin Burkes recorded their first career Northwoods League hits. Bombers starter Carter Smith only lasted two and two-thirds innings, as he issued eight free passes, struggling to find the zone with all three pitches. Smith threw three wild pitches, and Battle Creek had five as a whole. Kalamazoo used those miscues to get aggressive on the basepaths to the tune of seven stolen bases, including three from Goodes.
On the bump for the Growlers was Tanner Knapp, who turned in a solid performance for Kalamazoo. In six innings of work, Knapp fanned seven while only allowing one run. Luke Scoles pitched two scoreless frames, and Grant Jebbia struck out the game to wrap up the contest.
The Growlers welcome the Kenosha Kingfish to Homer Stryker Field tomorrow for their home opener. First pitch is at 6:35.