Northwoods League Milestone Celebrated in Kalamazoo
South Defeats the North 2-1 in the 2018 Northwoods League All-Star Game
KALAMAZOO, MI – 3,211 fans packed Homer Stryker Field for the 24th Northwoods League All-Star Game in the league’s 25th season of play. Players and front office representatives from around the league gathered in Kalamazoo to celebrate the anniversary.
The South Division won the game 2-1, but the day included other events to make the experience a great one in Kalamazoo. A combine in front of MLB scouts started the day for the All-Stars as they took part in fielding and throwing drills as well as batting practice. All the hitters also had their batting practice launch angles, distances and exit velocities recorded by Flightscope radar from Scoutcast.
Following the combine came the highly anticipated Home Run Derby which included the league leaders in home runs with Kyle McDonald (Arkansas State) at 13 and Tyler Plantier (University of Richmond) at 12. When the dust settled in the derby, it was hometown favorite Zach Daniels (Tennessee) of the Kalamazoo Growlers who launched three home runs to take home the crown. The South beat the North in the competition with an 8-5 victory.
Players then took part in a Junior All-Star Baseball Challenge in center field, throwing batting practice to young baseball players. The event was presented by Cole Automotive.
Former Major League Manager and Michigan native Terry Collins opened the ball game by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
The game was a pitcher’s duel from the beginning. The two teams only combined for 11 hits and three runs, most of which came in the later innings. The pitching staffs combined to strike out 18 batters.
The South struck first in the sixth inning when Madison Mallard Jake Randa (Northwest Florida State) drove a double into the left-center field gap scoring his Mallards teammate Trevor Schweke (UW-Milwaukee). Randa led the Northwoods League in doubles, entering the game with 21, and followed through on his reputation as a strong doubles hitter with another earlier in the fourth inning.
Jack Dunn (Northwestern) came through with the biggest hit of the game in the eighth inning with a solo home run to left field. Dunn is yet to homer on the season for his team, the Lakeshore Chinooks, so his blast came as a slight shock to everyone watching. The home run and a clean defensive performance were enough to earn Dunn Star of Stars honors as the MVP of the game.
The North tried to claw their way back into the game in the ninth on a solo home run from Scott Ogrin (Cal Poly) off of Woodchucks pitcher Lenny Gwizdala (Northwood University).
Dalton Wiggins (Marietta College) came in to pitch the final out for the South and complete the save. Mason McReaken (SIU-Edwardsville) was the pitcher of record for the South and picked up the win in .2 innings of work on the mound. Phillip Sikes (New Mexico) took the loss for the North allowing just one run on the Dunn home run.
The entire league has the day off on Wednesday before returning to the field for the final few weeks of the season.