Battle Creek Bombers
|Battle Creek Bombers|
|League||Northwoods League (South Division)|
|Location||Battle Creek, Michigan|
|Ballpark||C. O. Brown Stadium|
|League championships||1 (2011)|
|Division championships||1 (2011)|
|Former name(s)||Battle Creek Bombers (2007-present)|
|Colors||scarlet, black, grey|
|Management||Tony Iovieno (GM)|
|Media||Battle Creek Enquirer|
The Battle Creek Bombers are a baseball team that plays in the Northwoods League, a collegiate summer baseball league. All players on the team must have NCAA eligibility remaining in order to participate. Their home games are played at the C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek, Michigan. The team is currently owned by the Northwoods League.
The Battle Creek Bombers began play in 2007 as an expansion team in the Northwoods League. First year manager Brian Murphy guided the team to a record of 26-41.
The Bombers announced on October 15, 2007 that Matt Fonteno would be their field manager for the upcoming 2008 season. Matt has 3 years of experience as an assistant coach in college baseball.
The Bombers announced on May 1, 2008 that former intern Nate Mueske will replace Jake Thayer as Assistant General Manager.
2008 total attendance grew slightly from 2007 to 29,497. The Bombers finished the first half of the 2008 season in last place and they finished the second half in 6th place, missing the playoffs for the second straight season.
Under guidance of new field manager Tom Fleenor, the Bombers set a franchise record for wins in a season, going 37-30. The Bombers won 21 games in the first half of the season, finishing a game-and-a-half back of the Eau Claire Express. They finished four games back in the second half, barely missing out on the playoffs.
On the final night of the season, the Bombers drew a record crowd of 4,424 fans. Prior to the game, Chris Lewis was named team MVP for his outstanding season. Lewis broke 8 franchise records, and was in the top 2 of the league in seven offensive categories.
The Bombers sent a record 7 players to the Northwoods League All-Star Game, and 3 of those players (Chris Lewis, Matt Talley, and R.J. Hively) were selected to the Northwoods League Postseason All-Star Team.
The Battle Creek Bombers capped of their most successful season in franchise history hoisting the Northwoods League Championship trophy at C.O. Brown Stadium as they were crowned winners of the Summer Collegiate World Series.
Without a doubt the most memorable season in Bombers history, the 2011 campaign began on uneven ground: a new GM (Brian Colopy), new field manager (Donnie Scott), new pitching coach (Brandon Higelin), new logos, new front office employees, and, of course, new players. After an abysmal 2010 season in which the Bombers finished 20-50, the team, and town, needed a new era to begin. During the off-season, Colopy brought back hitting coach Thad Frame of Huntington University and together they assembled a lineup of veteran local standout talent mixed with younger players from big name schools . For the majority of the season, Battle Creek's lineup consisted of players from Central Michigan University, Taylor University, Evansville University, Northern Illinois, Western Illinois, Texas-San Antonio, and Miami (Ohio).
The ultimate "player's coach," Scott brought major league playing experience and minor-league managing experience to his players, and the combination thrived. The Bombers jumped out to an early Southern Division lead, and didn't lose a series until nearly three weeks into the regular season. The success continued, and after a down-to-the-wire race for the first-half championship, the Bombers clinched their playoff berth based on head-to-head records after tying Eau Claire and Green Bay for the best record.
Scott kept the team focused in the second half; eventually helping the Bomb Squad to a 2nd half championship and home field advantage in the divisional series against 2nd place finisher Green Bay. After finishing 30 games under .500 in 2010, the team finished the regular season 43-26, by far the best season in franchise history. Battle Creek faced their Southern Division rival, Green Bay, in the Southern Division playoff, and the Bombers took the pennant in two straight games before doing the same in the Northwoods League Championship against the Northern Division's Mankato Moondogs. Including the Championship win, the Bombers finished the 2011 season on an 11-game winning streak, and never lost more than three games in a row through the 73-game season.
With the Bombers 47-26 overall record, they officially completed the largest turnaround in the Northwoods Leagues 18-year history. The team improved their record by a dramatic 27 games in 2011. This blew out the former record of 19 set back in 1995 when the Kenosha Kroakers improved their 21-31 record to 40-18. Scott claimed all credit goes to his players, and it's clear to see why he believes it: Bryce Redeker broke the previous team home run record when he blasted 11 during the 2011 campaign (most of which came in Battle Creek, the league's deepest field), Jordan Dean set records for hits (89), doubles, and at-bats, Danny Rockett bought in a franchise-high 53 RBIs, and Martinez finished second in the NWL in walks (53) blowing out the old team record.
Not only did Battle Creek see success on the field, attendances numbers reached an all-time high at 1,176 fans a game in 2011. Compare that to last season's 778 fans a game, attendance increased by a dramatic 49%. The last team to have such a large increase was the Madison Mallards in the 2003 season when they increase their attendance from 1,973 fans a game (in 2002) to 4,411 fans a game in 2003 (124% increase).
The Bombers will attempt to defend their first ever Northwoods League championship with new coaches taking the reigns of the on-field squad. Former pitching coach Brandon Higelin takes over for former manager Donnie Scott. New coaches joining Higelin's staff are Joseph Ramos and Brad Gschwind.