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Kowalchuk delivers game-winning hit for Groves against Farmington WITH PHOTO GALLERY

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Groves took Game 1 of a doubleheader Monday, 3-2. Darkness suspended Game 2 until Wednesday.

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Baseball - 4/17/2017 

Birmingham Groves 3
Farmington 2
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BEVERLY HILLS — Having endured a difficult weekend following surgery to remove his wisdom teeth, Birmingham Groves senior John Kowalchuk nearly didn’t play in Monday’s doubleheader against Farmington.

His coach Shawn Morrison and teammates were certainly glad he found a way to take the field through some discomfort.

Kowalchuk delivered a two-run, game-winning double that nearly left the park, which brought the tying and game-winning runs home to score in the bottom of the seventh, giving Groves a 3-2 victory in the early game.

The second game of the doubleheader was suspended due to darkness with Groves leading 11-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The conclusion will be played Wednesday at Farmington along with the third game of the series between the clubs.

“John Kowalchuk got his wisdom teeth out on Friday and he sent me a text last night saying he wouldn’t make it to school,” Morrison said. “There was a good chance he wouldn’t be here and I’m glad he made it. He’s up there in the two-spot (in the batting order) for us and he just hits laser beams.”

Kowalchuk’s big day at the plate extended into game two with four RBI, including a three-run triple that broke the game wide open just before play was halted.

A year ago, Groves finished a single game behind Farmington in the Oakland Activities Association’s White Division, giving this week’s early-season series a lot of significance. The two teams are expected to compete for the division championship again.

Prior to the seventh inning theatrics, game one shaped up as a genuine pitchers’ duel between Max Novick of Groves and Elliott Edsall of Farmington.

Groves got one run early on an RBI single by Harrison Cole, and Farmington’s Devin Mahanti crushed a two-run home run in the fourth inning to put his team in front 2-1, but both pitchers limited the damage against them with strong outings.

“Credit (Edsall) with an excellent game on the mound,” Morrison said. “He was spotting up. We had a lot of hard-hit balls and some comebackers right at him and sometimes that can throw a guy off, but it didn’t rattle him. He was dialed in.

“Novick on our side, he came out and worked ahead of guys in the count. We had guys that were pitching well and doing what they needed to in a one-run game.”

In the top of the seventh inning, Novick had to exit amidst a two-on, one-out jam due to this season’s new pitch count limit. Senior Andrew Martin took over on the mound for Groves and promptly induced an inning-ending double play to keep it a one run margin.

“Andrew came in and got the double play, throwing three pitches. He sniped the win,” Morrison said of Martin’s first pitching appearance of the season.

In the bottom of he frame, Groves got a one-out single from Nick Ringler to put the tying run on base in the bottom of the seventh. A double to the wall by Chaise Ford put two in scoring position, setting up Kowalchuk’s heroics.

Groves improved to 5-0 on the young season. The team won a district title last season and lost just two significant contributors.

“We have most of the guys back and we’ve been setting our expectations high,” Morrison said.

Farmington dropped to 5-3, but will have an opportunity on Wednesday when the series shifts to its home field.

Last Updated: 4/17/2017 8:55:02 PM EST

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