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Too much early offense for the Rafters downs the Growlers

Kalamazoo, Mich. – The Kalamazoo Growlers fell behind right off the bat against the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, as the Rafters scored six in the first inning en route to a 9-2 victory over the Growlers at Witter Field on Thursday.

The six-run first inning for the Rafters was highlighted by RBI-singles from two batters: Rob Calabrese (Illinois-Chicago) and Brett Thompson (Hope International). Joe Wainhouse (Washington) ripped a single up the middle to plate two more Rafters as well. Wainhouse also went opposite field for his eighth homerun of the season in the second inning off Zane Gonzalez (Kalamazoo Valley CC).

The Rafters would also tack on one more in the third inning to take the early 8-0 lead and never looked back. On the mound, Gareth Stroh (Coffeyville CC) allowed just one run over six innings while striking out nine to earn his fifth win of the season.

Some good news for the Growlers came in the fifth when they scored their first run of the ballgame. Michael Crowley (Huntington) belted his third homerun over his past six games over the left field wall. The Chesterton, Ind. native finished the night going 1-for-4.

Seven of the nine batters in the Growlers lineup recorded a hit, but Darius Coldiron (Coker College) was the only Growler to record a multi-hit game.  Coldiron went 2-for-3 with a walk in the loss.

Jay Smith (Kalamazoo Valley CC) started the game for the Growlers but had to be pulled after the first inning due to Northwoods League pitching rules. Smith would give way to Gonzalez who limited the damage over his five innings of work, allowing three runs to the top offense in the South division.

The Growlers (32-37) will look to split the series against the Rafters (47-21) on Friday in the final matchup of the season against the top team in the Northwoods League. Grant Wolfram (Central Michigan), coming off a performance in the Major League Dream Showcase where he earned a save, will be on the bump for the Growlers. First pitch is set for 8:05 p.m. ET.

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The Kalamazoo Growlers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 23rd 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 150 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 (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (CHC). 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 and set the Growlers as your favorite team.