Bombers' Bats Catch Fire in the Fourth, Hand Mac Daddies Their Third Loss
KALAMAZOO, MI., - On a sweltering night, Battle Creek's bats caught fire in a 6-3 win over the Mac Daddies.
Despite leading for a majority of the game, the Bombers struggled out of the gate, similar to Sunday's contest. In the first inning, Ty Weatherly had some issues with his control, walking the first batter he faced in Kyle Ashworth. Weatherly would allow another base runner, as Parker Murdie singled. Eventually, Ashworth scored from third base on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Anthony Calarco. This was the only run Weatherly surrendered in his two innings of work, as he worked out of the first inning, ending it with a strikeout. In his start, Weatherly struck out three, walked three and allowed just one hit.
Pablo Arevalo came in to relieve Weatherly and was on the cusp of a perfect inning until Anthony Calarco went yard, extending the lead to 2-0.
Offensively, the Bombers got off to a slow start, with nine outs coming from their first nine batters. The Bombers would get base runners, however, as TJ McKenzie led off the first with a single. In the next at bat, Justin Van De Brake grounded out into a double play, erasing the base runner.
The Bombers' offense flipped the switch in the bottom of the fourth, where it scored five runs. The rally started with back-to-back singles by McKenzie and Van De Brake. When Joe Mason tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, Murdie at third base for the Mac Daddies could not corral the ball, resulting in the bases loaded for John Malcom. In Malcom's first start since opening day, he hit a bases clearing double. The next batter, Josh Swinehart, would earn an RBI for another attempted sacrifice bunt that was thrown away by Sean Allison, who yielded five runs, three of them being earned. For the final run of the inning, Jimmy Wressel knocked in Swinehart from third base. To end the fourth, Michael Morissette was tagged out trying to advance to third base after Seth Tucker flew out. Kyle Ashworth fired a laser over to third base, as Murdie applied the tag. After Sunday's offensive struggle, field manager Mike Ruppenthal was happy with the offense his team provided.
"The top couple of guys [hit,] and then we had some offense provided by the middle," Ruppenthal said. "That is what we expected to see on a daily basis."
The fourth inning was all the Bombers needed, as the Mac Daddies bats struggled after the third inning. Kalamazoo recorded just five hits in the final six innings of play.
Perhaps one of the more impressive pitching efforts came from Drew Szczepaniak who was a late addition to the roster. After taking over for Grant Hartwig who pitched one inning of one-hit ball in the fourth, Szczepaniak made quick work of the top of the Mac Daddies order. He allowed only one base runner who reached on an error. Szczepaniak was awarded the win, his second in as many appearances. While he was expected to do well this season, he has reached a new gear.
"It's been a little bit of a surprise, his [velocity] is up from what I was told it was this spring," Ruppenthal said. "He has commanded it, held the zone and we [have] brought him in with some runners on and he hasn't been fazed by it."
Following Szczepaniak's fifth inning, the Bombers tacked on another run, as Van De Brake hit an RBI double to score McKenzie. That would be the Bombers' sixth and final run of the game, as McKenzie reached on a throwing error by Murdie, his second of the game. After that, the Bombers landed four singles in the final third of the game.
The final two innings were the Thomas Schultz show, as he recorded his second six-out save. With four strikeouts, Schultz worked two straight one, two, three innings.
Another high level prospect who stood out was Malcom. While he did ground out twice, his three-RBI double won the game for the Bombers, and with a lineup struggling to hit coming into the game, Malcolm delivered.
"He was a late arriver, so he hasn't been with us every game, but he is starting to get into it," Ruppenthal said. "I think we can expect more from him the more comfortable he gets and just getting him to turn on and pull some balls has been big for him."
The Bombers will take the next two days off after they spent the Monday off-day facing more live at-bats, trying to get their timing down offensively. The next action they will see comes on Friday at 7:35 p.m., when they travel to Kalamazoo for a battle with the Growlers.
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Northwoods League Stories from July 7, 2020
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