A two-run fifth inning was all Andy Ravel and three Wisconsin Woodchucks relievers would need, as the Woodchucks defeated the Kalamazoo Growlers, 2-0, Friday night at Homer Stryker Field.
The Kent State product Ravel, who improved to 2-2 with the win, dominated the Growlers’ hitters throughout, tossing six scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, striking out six and walking two. Along with relievers Brian Howard, Austin Orewiler and Austin Tribby, the Woodchucks’ pitchers combined to strand 14 Kalamazoo baserunners en route to completing the shutout.
The fifth inning began with designated hitter Jake Scudder flying out to center, marking the eleventh straight hitter that Growlers’ starting southpaw Danny Mokrzycki had retired at the time. However, Woodchucks’ second baseman Nate Mondou singled to center to begin the rally. Shortstop Ryan Howard singled Mondou to third, and Mondou scored on left fielder William Hairston’s sacrifice fly to center. Right fielder Connor Beck then contributed an RBI-triple to right center field, scoring Howard and spotting the Chucks (14-8, 32-24) to the 2-0 advantage.
In relief of Ravel, the three Chucks pitchers each found themselves in jams but worked their way out of them. In the seventh, Howard worked around two hits and an error to strand two runners. The Growlers (8-12, 21-34) stranded the bases loaded against Orewiler in the eighth, as Orewiler aided his own cause with a fantastic barehanded play defensively to end the frame.
The biggest threat came in the ninth inning, when Kalamazoo got a single from center fielder Grant Van Putten to lead off the frame against Tribby, who then surrendered a double to second baseman Justin Fletcher. However, Tribby stranded both runners in retiring the heart of Kalamazoo’s order via a strikeout, pop out and strikeout. With the scoreless ninth, Tribby recorded his first save of the year.
The Woodchucks are back in action Saturday night in the opener of their two-game set with the Battle Creek Bombers. First pitch from C.O. Brown Stadium is scheduled for 6:05 P.M.
The Wisconsin Woodchucks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwood’s League. Playing its 21st season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwood’s League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 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 115 Northwood’s League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (DET) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (STL) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live via the Northwood’s League YouTube channel. For more information, visit woodchucks.com.