Chinooks Rally Late to Sweep Growlers
Kalamazoo, MI – For the second consecutive night, the Lakeshore Chinooks entered the ninth inning against the Kalamazoo Growlers with the game tied. And for the second consecutive night, Lakeshore scored the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth and kept the home team scoreless in the bottom half for a big road victory.
The win moves the Chinooks to 2-0 in the second half of the Northwoods League season, and finishes a two-game sweep against a Growlers team that has regularly had its way with opponents all summer long. Kalamazoo finished the first half of the season in second place in the North Division.
With the game tied at seven entering the final frame, first baseman Ronald Sweeny III’s walk and third baseman Connor Christman’s single set up runners at the corners with one out for second baseman Takahiro Yamada. Yamada delivered, lifting a sacrifice fly to left field to plate Sweeny III, giving the Chinooks a one-run lead. Right-hander Brandon Komar finished off the ninth inning to earn the win in relief and secure a 8-7 victory for Lakeshore.
The Chinooks grabbed a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning while collecting just one hit. Designated hitter Christian Boulware got Lakeshore on the board with an RBI double, but four more runs crossed the plate during the inning thanks to a wild pitch, a hit batsmen, and two bases-loaded walks. Kalamazoo right-hander Luke Boyd couldn’t finish the first inning and exited the frame after recording just two outs and his team already down big.
The Growlers got the five runs back, however, in the bottom of the fourth inning against Chinooks starter Brendan McGuigan. Six hits surrendered in a stretch of seven batters plated five runs for Kalamazoo, and by the time McGuigan exited with two outs in the fourth, the game was tied at five.
That begun the back-and-forth battle between each team’s offense in the middle innings. Lakeshore quickly took the lead back in the top of the fifth inning on left fielder Cole Turney’s team-leading fourth home run of the season, a two-run blast.
The Growlers responded with runs in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings against right-hander Alex Stevenson to again tie the game, this time at seven. Left-hander Trevor Smisek’s and Komar’s scoreless performances out of the bullpen proved critical as the Chinooks kept Kalamazoo’s dangerous offense off the board for the final three innings.
Lakeshore’s victory in its last at-bat is its third in the past week. In spite of McGuigan’s third consecutive rough start, the Chinooks’ offense has proven to be more formidable than ever, carrying the team to seven victories in its last nine contests.
The Chinooks return home for the weekend, opening up a two-game series against the Wisconsin Woodchucks Friday at Kapco Park. Right-hander Kyle Schmitt is set to make his first start of the season for Lakeshore, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. In eight relief appearances this season, Schmitt has a 7.41 earned run average. He has not faced the Woodchucks yet this season.