After 15 consecutive losses to Kellogg, including the first three of four games this weekend, Kalamazoo Valley finally knocked off the Bruins and handed them their first MCCAA Western Conference defeat of the year Saturday. The Cougars ended the four game series with a 8-7 walkoff home run victory in the rain from Alex Dreier. In the first game of the afternoon, Kellogg won 12-5.
The doubleheader started two hours early in attempt to avoid a rainy weather forecast. Although the first game stayed dry, almost the entire second game was played in a consistent rain. Kalamazoo Valley scored once in the first inning, then added two more in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. The powerful Kellogg offense broke the shutout in the top of the fifth on a Tanner Gross two run homer, but the Cougars used a three-run Ryan Anderson dinger and a solo bomb from Andrew Szalkowski in the bottom of the fifth for a 7-2 lead.
After an excellent first six innings, the Bruins finally got to starting pitcher Brock Emery in the seventh. The Cougars got the first two outs, but two hits, a walk, and hit batsmen chased Emery from the game. Joey Knapp got the final out, but surrendered a double and walk with a fielding error, allowing Kellogg to plate five in the seventh and tie the game at 7-7. The fourth Kellogg reliever, Travis Snyder, entered in the bottom of the seventh and only threw one pitch, which Alex Dreier sent over the right field wall for the victory. Listen to the homer below:
The win was Kalamazoo Valley’s first over Kellogg in baseball since April 9, 2011. Dreier had two hits, two runs, and the winning RBI. Anderson finished with three RBI on two hits and a run. Kellogg’s Raphe Gross had three hits and a walk drown, scoring twice. Cougar starter Brock Emery pitched 6.2 innings, allowing seven hits and seven runs. Bruin starter Max Swan went 4.2 innings, allowing five runs and seven hits.
In the first game of the afternoon, the Cougars struck first with two runs in the first inning. Like Friday’s two defeats, the lead didn’t hold, with Kellogg scoring thrice in the second, twice in the third and once in the fourth. The Cougars plated one in the third, but a six-run sixth inning removed any doubt for the Bruins. Kalamazoo Valley scored twice more in the seventh for the 12-5 defeat.
Bruin starter Joey Nate went six innings, allowing four hits and three runs, two earned, with eight strikeouts. Cougar starter Austin Laurencig pitched 5.2 innings, allowing ten hits and ten runs. Offensively, Kellogg saw two doubles, two runs, and two RBI by Bailey Peterson.
Kellogg wins three of four over the weekend to improve to 30-12-2 overall and 19-1 in MCCAA Western Conference play. At the time of posting, it was unknown if they had clinched the conference crown, with game two between Grand Rapids and Muskegon in progress. Second place Grand Rapids needed to win to stay four games behind the Bruins with them meeting Kellogg for their final four games. The Bruins host Grand Rapids Friday at 2 p.m., then travel Saturday at 1 p.m.
Kalamazoo Valley is 18-17 overall and 13-7 in the West, good for third. Likewise, the result of the second Grand Rapids/Muskegon games plays into the Cougars fate, as they could secure a top three finish and a trip to the Region XII tournament if fourth place Muskegon (13-10) were to lose to Grand Rapids. Muskegon has no more remaining Western Conference games, while the Cougars have a four-game weekend series with Glen Oaks. Friday’s games are at Kalamazoo Valley starting at 2 p.m. and can be heard on the Slocum Sports Network. Saturday’s doubleheader at Glen Oaks begins at 1 p.m. Before that, the Cougars travel to Lansing for two starting at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Listen back to Saturday’s games below: