Kokomo, Ind. — The Chinooks hoped to end a week that included five road games with a victory.
Despite an exhibited glimpse of promise early, the Kokomo Jackrabbits exploded for eight unanswered runs to tack Lakeshore with its sixth loss in seven games, 9-3.
“I felt like guys tried to do too much at the plate when we got behind,” Chinooks field manager Travis Akre said. “We were able to put some pressure on them early. [We] just didn’t keep the same approach when we got behind.”
Left fielder Connor Kimple entered Sunday on a two-game hitting streak and collected his first home run of the season to build the Chinooks (11-20) a 3-1 lead in the second inning.
“[It was] pretty relieving hitting the homer early,” Kimple said. “I’ve been here three years and my only homers were [from] my first year, so it’s cool to hit one here in my last week.”
Lakeshore’s fast start at the plate didn’t suffice, nonetheless.
Tying the ballgame at one run apiece, Jackrabbits shortstop Chase Meidroth launched a solo home run to left field for Chinooks starter Joe Glassey’s first of six earned runs surrendered.
Glassey escaped the opening frame without his team trailing but the Jackrabbits (21-9) pounced on the right-hander in their next chance, backing up their run-scoring prowess as the Northwoods League’s fourth-ranked ball club in runs scored (390).
“Joe’s numbers didn’t look good, but he threw well,” Akre said. “He got a bunch of weak contact that found holes, unfortunately. He’ll bounce back; he works too hard.”
Tossing 49 pitches through the first two frames, Glassey was lifted for right-hander Miles Halligan, who equaled the length of his previous four-inning relief appearance. The Minneapolis native was unable to mitigate Kokomo’s plate production, loading the bases with one out.
Tallying the Jackrabbits’ second of six total walks against Halligan, leadoff hitter Gavin Grant reeled in the first of two runs added in the third. Designated hitter Tora Otsuka expanded the four-run deficit to five on a ground out.
Even a 4-6-3 double play turned in the fifth aided Kokomo. Catcher Ben Livorsi worked a leadoff walk to score one more run.
And on the contrary, the Chinooks were held to one hit after the second as Jackrabbits starter Ryan Fleming and reliever James Flahive combined to retire 11 consecutive batters following Kimple’s one-out double in the fourth.
“Definitely a tough game and it’s been a tough stretch for us but that’s baseball,” Kimple said. “It’s hard to have it go your way all the time.”
Kimple completed a two-hit performance for the first time in six days while five of Lakeshore’s other eight batters failed to tally a hit after a ten-hit team effort in Saturday’s two-run defeat.
“Kimple has made some good adjustments the past few days and it’s starting to show,” Akre said. “Hopefully, he can continue it into the week.”
Although the Jackrabbits also possess the league’s third-most hits (591), their lineup cooled off in the final three innings and only produced one hit without a run. Right fielder Ryan Ellis singled to first base for his second hit as two other Kokomo hitters finished with multi-hit contests.
The Chinooks fell victim to a season sweep versus the Jackrabbits. Glassey was charged with the loss and moved to 0-3 in 2021. Fleming (2-1) earned his second straight win and a new season-high in strikeouts (six) after a five-strikeout outing through five innings at Battle Creek.
Up next, Lakeshore will welcome the Dock Spiders for the start of a home-and-home series on Monday, hoping to snap a three-game losing streak to Fond du Lac.
“[We are] excited to be back at home for another crack at the Dock Spiders who have had our number for the most part this year,” Kimple said.
First pitch from Kapco Park is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.