WMU Baseball Blake Dunn

After a successful first week of baseball in the Northwoods League's Michigan South Division Pod, the Kalamazoo Growlers and Kalamazoo Mac Daddies were set to play another game at Homer Stryker Field on Wednesday night.

Those plans were halted after the Growlers organization received a visit from the Kalamazoo County Health Department and Sheriff's office on Wednesday morning notifying the teams not to play the game of baseball, according to a press release from the Growlers.

After getting initially cleared to move forth with a shortened season, the team was notified on Wednesday that it was not qualified to play under the premise of Executive Order 2020-133 called "Restarting Professional Sports."

"The Growlers hope to have more clarity as to the timing and reasoning behind this abrupt decision after receiving prior approvals as of June 29," the team stated in its release.

The order says professional players are safe to play baseball as long as the six-feet distancing is maintained to "the extent compatible with the sporting activity." Since the teams in the Northwoods League are made up of college athletes, the teams do not qualify for the pro sports exception unless players are paid, which would make them forfeit their college eligibility.

For amateur athletes, they must maintain six feet of distance "at all times" during such activities under current orders.

The Growlers state that all players are tested for COVID-19 upon their arrival to the stadium, along with players, coaches, umpires and staff undergo health screenings and daily temperature checks.

Bronson Sports Medicine trainers are on site for every game and practice, along with equipment being designated for every player and wiped down throughout the game, according to the organization.

The Growlers also say staff, players and coaches are required to wear masks when not actively participating in the games and that players are maintaining six feet of distance in game settings to "the maximum extent possible."

A suspended season means another disruption in game action for WMU baseball players, who have players representing all three teams in the Michigan South Division Pod (Growlers, Mac Daddies, Battle Creek Bombers).

Star outfielder Blake Dunn, who missed out on hearing his name called in the MLB Draft recently, is on the Growlers roster along with Max Huntley, Will Morrison and Will Mullen.

Josh Swinehart and Drew Szczepaniak are on the Bombers roster, while Easton Sikorski, Jack Huisman, Dane Ambrustmacher and Gavin Doyle play for the Mac Daddies.

The three teams were set to play 40 games each, all against each other, from July 1 through Sept. 2 before the season was put on hold. The north division in the Michigan Pod, which is based entirely in Traverse City included the Pitt Spitters, Resorters and Dune Bears. 

A three-day playoff was planned after the regular season was concluded to determine the Northwoods League Champion for the Michigan Pod in 2020.

The Growlers say anyone who has tickets for games missed will have tickets for future games later this summer and that Growlers will be contacting ticket holders with updates.

The organization says it has consulted its legal counsel, Willis Law, about the decision to suspend the season.

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