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Published On: June 19th, 2014

00000000000000001Kalamazoo, Mich. – The Kalamazoo Growlers (9-14) and the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters put on an offensive fireworks show on Wednesday night but the Growlers were unable to claw their way back as they fell to the Rafters 14-11. Both teams combined for 27 hits and 25 runs, the second most combined runs scored this season in the Northwoods League.

Box Score

The fireworks started  in the first inning when with Rafters (6-17) runners on second and third, catcher Ryan Lidge (Notre Dame), gunned the Rafter runner at third who was getting to big of a lead to get the Growlers out of the jam in the first. John Rubino almost gave the Growlers the early lead when he blasted a shot down the left field line that just went foul.

Then the rain started to fall. A strike of lighting and thundering clouds rolling in made both teams sit in their dugouts for a near 20 minute rain delay. Which the rain delay significantly setback the Growlers pitching according to head coach Joe Carbone.

“Our pitching let us down tonight and we had to rely too much on our bullpen tonight which puts a lot of stress on them,” said Carbone. “It’s a work in progress.”

Once play resumed the Rafters down poured the runs on the Growlers scoring five runs on just two hits in the top of the second. The Rafters would load the bases twice in the inning as the strike zone was hard to find for starting pitcher Ryan Colegate (Ohio Dominican), who was pulled after going just 1.1 innings and hitting three batters, earning the loss. The Growlers could have gotten out of the inning on a double play at home but third baseman Austin Cangelosi (Indiana) made an errant throw to home that would plate two Rafters.

“It was just me, you have to be ready for the ball every time and I just froze,” said Cangelosi. “It’s going to happen, its baseball, you have to live with it and keep moving on.”

Cangelosi would make up for the error in the bottom of the fourth when he blasted his second home run of the year over the right field wall to slim the Rafters lead to 5-1.

“Started off a really bad at-bat, but then he challenged me with a fastball and I just happen to hit it out of the ballpark,” said Cangelosi.

The inning would  end in disappointment however as Ryan Bull (Notre Dame) rocketed a ball down the left field line but after a great throw by the Rafters left fielder, gunned catcher Ryan Lidge (Notre Dame) at third.

The Rafters would score in three straight innings totaling nine runs and seemed to be pulling away with the 10-1 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth. This would change with one swing of the bat by right fielder Jared Kujawa (Western Michigan) who smoked a grand slam to right center field, the second grand slam in the Northwoods League this season. Along with Nick Yarnall’s (Pittsburgh) third home run of the season to right field, the Growlers cut the lead to just 10-7.

“It was cool that it was Western Michigan University night and that I got to hit a grand slam,” said Kujawa. “It was cool that it could happen tonight.”

Wisconsin Rapids in the top of the seventh batted around for the second time on the night and scored three more runs to extend their lead to 14-7. This would not be enough to hold off the Growlers as Cangelosi blasted a two-run home run, his second of the night and inched the Growlers closer at 14-9.

“He just threw the ball right in my wheelhouse and I just hit it out of the ballpark,” said Cangelosi.

The Growlers would surely not go away as they scored two more runs in the bottom of the eighth as Ryan Spaulding (Ball State) earned his team leading 17th RBI of the season for the first run of the inning and after the bases were loaded, Jalen Phillips (Duke) was hit by a pitch to score the second run.

Unfortunately the Growlers could not come through with the big hit in the bottom of the ninth as the Growlers dropped their third straight game. Although taking the loss, there were many positives on the night as eight of the nine Growlers in the line-up earned a hit.

“We didn’t quit, we got close but just couldn’t get things going when we needed too,” said Carbone.

The Growlers will be back in action tomorrow night against the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters as they look towards snapping their three game losing streak, with first pitch at 7:05 p.m.  It’s also Thirsty Thursday presented by Miller Lite which all Miller Lite beers are just two dollars! Also come out and be a part of Tishhouse Electric’s Cowboy Monkey Rodeo Night presented by WWMT (Channel 3).

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 significanlty more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpries 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 Zimmerman (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (STL) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League YouTube channel.