BATTLE CREEK, MI – Behind solid Battle Creek pitching and timely hitting, the Kalamazoo Growlers fell to the Battle Creek Bombers 5-2 at C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek. The game marked the beginning of this season's I-94 Rivalry Series presented by the OnStaff Group.
The Bombers (1-2) got the bats going early with a first inning. Li Lin (National Taiwan Sport University) drew a one-out walk, then Matt Simmons (Gardner-Webb) hit a two-run home run well over the right center field wall.
The Growlers (0-3) got both runs back in their half of the second inning. Charles Leblanc (Pittsburgh) and Ben Spieldenner (St. Joseph's) hit back-to-back one-out singles. Leblanc then moved up to third on a wild pitch by Bombers starter Edgar Sanchez. John Soteropulos (California) hit a sac fly to right, scoring Leblanc, and Spieldenner scored when Battle Creek shortstop Tim McKeithan (Brown) mishandled a popup from the bat of Ryan Slaughter (KVCC).
Li Lin created more damage for Kalamazoo starter Gabe Gunter (Shelton State) in the bottom of the second. Gunter retired two of the first three batters he faced while allowing a single to Spencer Hemphill (Louisiana-Monroe). Trek Stemp (Washington State) followed with a single two batters later, then after a Dan Swain (Sienna) walk to load the bases, Lin laced a single down the left field line, scoring Hemphill and Stemp to make it 4-2.
The Bombers added one run in the bottom of the third inning to cap off the scoring. Tyler Walsh (Belmont) was hit by a pitch, then stole second and third, later scoring on a sac fly by Christian Helsel (Penn State).
Edgar Sanchez (1-0) earned his first win of the season after allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits through six innings, walking none and striking out two. Gunter (0-1) took the loss in his season debut after giving up five runs over four innings.
Tyler Harris [Miami (OH)] tossed two scoreless innings of relief for Battle Creek, while Min Hsia (National Taiwan Sport University) earned the save with a 1-2-3 ninth. Matt Frawley (Purdue) and Shane Bryant (Purdue) combined for four innings of scoreless relief for Kalamazoo, as Bryant struck out five of the six batters he faced.
Leblanc and Spieldenner each had two hits and a run for the Growlers. Lin and Simmons combined to drive in four of the five Bomber runs.
The Growlers open the home schedule on Friday night against Battle Creek. First pitch from Homer Stryker Field is set for 7:05 p.m., and doors open at 6:05 p.m. The night will feature a postgame fireworks show and a flatscreen TV giveaway presented by Walmart/Sam's Club, as well as an appearance from the Inflatamaniacs entertainment act. The first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive a magnet schedule, as well as the Secret Envelope Giveaway presented by Old Burdick's Bar & Grill.
The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 21-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 www.northwoodsleague.com.