Kalamazoo, Mich. — Resilient, the theme to illustrate the Chinooks’ season thus far and Tuesday night for that matter.
It was like a well-oiled machine out there at Homer Stryker Field in Kalamazoo. Sound fielding and hitting, complemented by what turned out to be solid pitching resulted in a comfortable 13-9 victory, one that erased a five-game losing streak.
However, it did not begin picture perfect.
Instead of a three-up and three-down rotation of outs to start the first couple of innings for Lakeshore’s starting pitcher Ben Cruikshank; it was instead a drawn-out 36 pitch routine.
The Missouri State right-hander was inconsistent, allowing three earned runs and three walks in what he would have hoped was a longer outing. Pouncing on the lack of command from the rubber, Kalamazoo jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, an unfortunate, but rather a familiar sight as of late for the Chinooks.
Although, two free passes and a single to right in the third pushed Lakeshore into the striking distance while second baseman Paul Toetz wore a fastball ball and allowed his team to plate their first run. Five more runs soon followed and before you knew it the Chinooks were on top, 6-3. Colin Mathews RBI singled in Jackson Gray and Griffin Doersching, while two wild pitches and a Nathan Aide single to right padded the lead.
Brody Ware, who picked up the win from the mound for Lakeshore Tuesday, was a vital piece to the team’s success despite giving up two runs. Out of his four innings pitched, half of them were shutout innings and the Kent State freshman was able to keep the Growlers at bay and away from significant scoring damage.
“Our bullpen really did well,” said field manager Travis Akre. “I thought everyone used that [pitch counts] to their advantage, but certainly [felt] good to be on the right side of the ball game tonight.”
The Chinooks scored nine runs when Ware was present in the contest. The other three runs came later in the fifth when another wild pitch and a Brendan Sher two-run RBI double allowed the Chinooks to add several more insurance runs.
Kalamazoo, trailing 9-5, tacked on several runs here in there in an attempt to make things competitive but Lakeshore consistently added to their score total making the attempts useless. Five more runs crossed the plate for the boys in blue with runs coming in the final three innings.
Out of the 11 players who stepped in the batter’s box for Lakeshore, seven guys received a hit while three of the seven earned multi-hit games. One of them being Jackson Gray who said if you stay aggressive with pitches in the zone you will be successful.
In addition to excellent batting, fielding was above average too. As Akre says, you got to play ‘clean baseball,’ and Lakeshore held themselves closely to that standard with just one error.
Lakeshore is right back in the same place Wednesday for the second game of the road series versus the Kalamazoo Growlers.
“Being on the road [and] staying together is great for us right now,” said Jason DiCecco, who pitched a pair of innings in the win. “Especially early in the season to just be able to mesh and gel as a team. We’re able to get to know everyone else and create a good chemistry because of it.”
The first pitch is scheduled for 5:35 p.m.