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Chinooks Pitching Dominates Growlers in 1-0 Victory

 

Mequon, WI- The Lakeshore Chinooks defeated the Kalamazoo Growlers 1-0 on Friday night to improve to 16-15 on the season, complete a two-game sweep, and continue their four-game winning streak. 

The one and only run of the game was scored in the first inning when Chinooks lead-off hitter, Matthew Mika, roped a single into left field, stole second on the first pitch to Joe Duncan, stole third on the second pitch, and was brought into score when Duncan grounded out to shortstop.

“When I’m stealing, I try to get to third base as fast as possible,” Mika said pregame. “I try to time myself.”

Without a clock or stopwatch on hand, he uses pitch count as a measuring device, and tonight he at the very least tied his personal best record of two pitches to get to third base. 

From there the Chinook offense, which has been incredibly dominant in the last week—scoring 11, 15 and 17 runs and averaging 10.4 runs per game over their last five—went almost entirely stagnant. They were set down 1-2-3 from the 4th to the 6th inning, and only four players registered a hit. However, of those four, three had multi-hit games. 

What dominated this game was the Chinooks pitching staff. 

Austin Jones took the hill for the Chinooks tonight. The righty from UW-Whitewater put up a jaw-dropping season for the Warhawks with a 1.91 ERA , and 83 strikeouts over 85 innings pitched. And, though he isn't new to Lakeshore—he’s made appearances with the team in 2014 and 2016—this is the first year he’ll be primarily used as a starting pitcher.

Even though he hadn't thrown for about a month, Jones tossed five, brilliant shutout innings allowing only three hits and one walk to carry his collegiate momentum into the Northwoods. The performance also earned him Northwoods League pitcher of the night recognition. 

“It was nice to get back out there at Kapco,” Jones said. “Obviously I’ve got to build arm endurance back up, but I’m happy to be back,”

Out of the bullpen, Austin Havecost, Brendan McGuigan, and Parker Sanburn closed the door to allow Jones to earn his first win of the summer. 

“Everyone knows they have the ability to get in the game and put up zeros,” Havecost said of the bullpen’s recent performance. “We know we wouldn't be down there if the coaches didn't trust us.”

Over their last, 21.1 IP, the bullpen has allowed five earned runs for an ERA of 2.11 ERA. Both impressive and a significant change of pace from earlier this season when they allowed 35 runs over a nine-game stretch that earned them a 7.56 ERA. 

They’ll be rewarded for that success tomorrow. As a result of the shutout, the pitching staff gets to take batting practice. It could be embarrassing, or it could open up some potential pinch hitter roles. My guess is the former. 

The only sour note of the night was seeing Royce Ando play his final game of the summer. Ando, a shortstop from Michigan State who spent last summer with the Chinooks and finished with a .241 average over 195 at-bats, got off to a slower start this summer after a long, tiring collegiate season, but will be missed by everyone in and around the clubhouse. 

“It’s been short and sweet, but I loved it,” Ando said. “The feeling of being a family, not just during the games but outside the field as well. The Lakeshore Chinooks provide a really good atmosphere for us to just bond and be a whole team.”

“The team is getting much better as the season’s moving forward… they do have a great shot of making a playoff run and winning a championship.”

The Chinooks are back underway tomorrow as they travel to Rockford to take on the Rivets. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 and on the mound for the Chinooks is Cyrillo Watson. 

The Lakeshore Chinooks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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 170 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM).  All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.lakeshorechinooks.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Chinooks as your favorite team.