Roberts’ Gem Lifts Growlers over Woodchucks

Rasure Tosses Fifth Quality Start, Chucks Still Fall 4-1

Kalamazoo, Mich. – Pitchers making their first starts of the season are often a mystery: you rarely know exactly what you’re going to get. Saturday night in Kalamazoo, the Growlers got a whale of a debut start from right-hander Dakota Roberts, who tossed a seven-inning gem to lead Kalamazoo (21-42; 12-17) to a 4-1 win over the Wisconsin Woodchucks (24-41; 9-21). Korey Rasure was similarly strong for the Chucks, issuing his fifth quality start in nine outings overall, but the Woodchucks got out-hit for the fifth straight game and have now lost nine of their last ten contests.

Rasure was sharp as usual against Kalamazoo’s standard small-ball brand of baseball. Two different Growlers tried to lay down sacrifice bunts in the second, by Rasure threw the lead runner out both times, including gunning down Stephen Dubb at home to preserve a scoreless game. Finally, the small-ball game worked out for the Growlers. Anthony Rios led off the fifth with a walk, got to second on a sac bunt, got to third on a flyout, and scored on a controversial balk call against Rasure to put KZoo up 1-0.

Wisconsin bounced right back against Roberts, who allowed just three hits through five before Stevie Mangrum led off the sixth with a single. Mangrum stole second but collided with shortstop Connor Hollis and came up limping. He hobbled to third on a single by Logan Foster, but was lifted there for a pinch-runner in Jordan Santos. Hunter Coleman stepped in and blasted a line drive to left field where LA Woodard made the catch and nearly threw Santos out at home. Santos slid under the tag of Rios at the plate however, levelling the score at one apiece.

The Growlers answered immediately. Drew Huff hit a one-out double off Rasure in the bottom half and Dubb singled him home. Dubb got to third on a passed ball and scored an unearned run on an RBI single from Matt Schwarz to put Kalamazoo up 3-1.

Rasure departed in favor of Lenny Gwizdala, who entered the Wisconsin Woodchuck history books as the pitcher with the most appearances in a single season with an even 30. Gwizdala tossed a perfect seventh before the small-ball popped up again. Jason Sullivan led off the eighth with a single, got to second on a sac bunt, straight up stole third, and scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-1.

That lead was more than enough for Roberts and the Growlers, who rounded out his fabulous day with a perfect seventh. Local product Joey Knapp allowed an infield single to Foster but threw a scoreless eighth, and Huff buoyed his two-hit day by working around a Trey Dawson single to throw a scoreless ninth, picking up his first save of the year and icing the 4-1 Growler win.

Rasure picked up his fifth quality start, just Wisconsin’s 12th overall with six strong innings of work Saturday. He allowed seven hits with three runs, two earned, with three strikeouts against two walks, but Roberts was just a little bit better. In his second appearance, first start, of the summer, he allowed only five hits with just the one run with three punchouts and zero walks for the win.

The Woodchucks will search for a season series split with the Growlers on Sunday at Homer-Stryker. Zach Siggelkow will make his third start of the year against Zane Gonzalez in his debut, with first pitch scheduled for 2:05 PM CT.

Tickets are on sale to all Wisconsin Woodchucks home games and can be purchased online by calling 715.845.5055 or by stopping by the Woodchucks front office during normal business hours.

Tim Hackett, Broadcasting Intern