When Mitchell Buban scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Kenosha Kingfish snagged a 1-0 lead over the Battle Creek Bombers in what appeared to be shaping up as a pitcher’s duel Sunday afternoon at Simmons Field.

It didn’t turn out that way.

Battle Creek scored the game’s next nine runs to pull away from the Kingfish for a 9-2 Northwoods League victory in the first of a two-game set.

The teams play again at Simmons Field at 6:35 p.m. today.

After Sunday, both teams are 5-8, tied for last place in the six-team Great Lakes East Division. They are, however, just two games back of division leaders Kokomo and Kalamazoo, who are both 7-6.

The offensive stars for the Bombers on Sunday were Jack Merrifield and Kolby Johnson.

Merrifield blasted a solo home run in the top of the fifth to tie the game at 1-1 and finished 2-for-4 with a run and two RBI, while Johnson went 3-for-5 with a run and three RBI.

After tying the game in the fifth, Battle Creek surged ahead with a three-run sixth and poured on five more in the seventh.

It took three relievers to get through the seventh for the Kingfish, as Matt Helwig, Jon-Anthony Caban and Colton Gordon all pitched in the frame.

Starter Kaleb Schmidt dropped to 1-1.

He went 52/3 innings, allowing four runs (all earned) on six hits with four walks and four strikeouts.

Kenosha’s offense, meanwhile, mustered just four hits, as Battle Creek starter Josh Hranicky (1-2) allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits with three walks and six strikeouts over six innings.

Buban, a Tremper graduate, had two of Kenosha’s hits and also stole his fourth base.

RJ Pearson’s sacrifice fly scored Nate Thomas in the bottom of the seventh for Kenosha’s second run.

Mike Johnson