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Published On: July 18th, 2023

The Chinooks(7-8) faced the Kalamazoo Growlers(11-3) in their home ballpark tonight. Coming into the game, the Chinooks had their work cut out for them as the Growlers won 17 of their last 20 games with a staff ERA of 3.61, good for second in the Northwoods league. Ultimately, this one went down as a loss for the Chinooks, with the final score being 8-0.


The Growlers wasted no time in this one as they put up an early three runs in the top half of the first inning.  Gavin Lewis Jr. kicked things off with a leadoff double and went to third after a sac fly. A single by Casen Taggart sent Lewis Jr. home for the game’s first run. The Growlers proceeded to load up the bases and send two more runners home to take a 3-0 lead over the Chinooks.


It was the tale of two starts tonight as the Chinooks saw their first three batters of the night taken care of quickly by Growlers starter Eamon Horwedel who needed only eleven pitches to get out of the frame. Horwedel continued the good pitching into the second inning as he shut down three more Chinooks batters. 


Alba rebounded nicely in the second inning after allowing four hits in the first inning. However, the third inning saw the Growlers tack on two more runs. With one out, Casen Taggert got on base with a walk. Banks Tolley moved Taggert around the bases with a double to put runners on second and third now with two outs. Anthony Stephan hit a grounder to first basemen Joey Spence, and it looked like the Chinooks would get out of the inning with no damage done. Although, an error by Spence allowed both Taggert and Tolley to score, increasing the Growlers’ lead to 5-0.  


When asked about his thoughts on the Spence error, Cho said, “[He] Just didn’t make the play, and [they] got two runs.” 


The first fourteen batters Eamon Horwedel saw would all be retired one way or another. Through four innings of work, Horwedel allowed no walks, no hits, and had five strikeouts. Drew Townsend, the fifteenth batter of the night for the Chinooks, broke up the no-hitter with a double to right field. Yet, the Chinooks could not capitalize on the opportunity despite the runner in scoring position. 


For the Chinooks starter, despite allowing three earned runs, Alba had a productive day and went deep in this one with six innings of work, throwing 92 pitches and four strikeouts. Nolan Kahle came in to replace Alba and would be tasked with keeping the Growler’s offense at bay as the Chinooks struggled to get anything going offensively. 


The Growlers poured in three runs in the eighth inning, making their lead 8-0. Meanwhile, Eamon Horwedel continued to pitch well and went the distance in this game, pitching all nine innings. It was an impressive performance from Horwedel, who had few blemishes throughout the game—just one walk and one hit for the Growler’s starter, along with ten strikeouts en route to a Growler’s victory. 


“[He] pitched backward at times, changed arm slots at times… Did a good job mixing pitches,” said Field Manager Trevor Cho.


After the loss tonight, Cho remained confident in his guys, saying, “We’re still a really good team. We’re right there in the standings…just got to show up tomorrow”.


There’s no doubt Kalamazoo has played good baseball this year. Currently, they sit at first, atop the Great Lakes East division. Earlier in the year, the Chinooks split the first series against the Growlers in Kalamazoo. But a lot has changed for the Chinooks since June 8th and 9th, when the series took place.  And Field Manager Trevor Cho has had the challenge of navigating the Chinooks through the changing faces. 


[I] just let them know that this summer is all about them as a player. They get to come in here and have complete freedom to have whatever kind of summer they want against good competition,” said Cho.


Tonight marked the Chinook’s return to Moonlight Graham Field after a five-game road trip where Lakeshore went 1-4. The Chinook’s only win during that stretch came against the Fond du lac Dockspiders in a 22-3 victory.


“If you look at the games and boxscores, we’re right there. I wouldn’t say we’ve struggled. I think we’ve struggled with things, but as a team, we’ve done way more good things than bad,” said Cho.


The Chinooks look to bounce back tomorrow against the Growlers, with the first pitch marked for 6:35 pm CST.