TRAVERSE CITY — With a couple of late runs on Monday, Gateway was making things a little uncomfortable for Traverse City.
Fortunately for the Beach Bums, Nick Capito was calm, cool and collected.
Capito did allow one run in the ninth, but he ultimately shut the door on the Grizzlies as the Beach Bums posted a 6-4 win at Wuerfel Park that gave Traverse City two wins in the three-game series.
Traverse City’s closer saw a string of 19 scoreless innings come to an end with the run that trimmed the Beach Bums’ lead to two, but even with a runner on second and only one out, he didn’t panic.
“All I really think about is my next pitch,” said Capito, who earned his team-leading 13th save. “That’s all you can really do. If you think about what hit you just gave up, or if you gave a walk, you’re kind of giving in to the pressure. All you really focus on is the task at hand and the next pitch. That’s all that’s running through my mind.”
The crafty left-hander, who allowed a pair of doubles in the first three batters he faced, got Jose Flores to ground out to third as Beach Bums’ third baseman Jose Vargas made a nice defensive play to nail Flores at first. Capito then got Chris McClendon to strike out to end the game.
“They’re a good hitting team,” said Traverse City manager Gregg Langbehn. “I was just talking to Nick on the way up (to the clubhouse). They were aggressive early in the count on him and he just left a couple pitches up. He’s our guy with the game on the line. He’s been phenomenal if you look at the numbers. Statistically speaking, they’re incredible. We’ve got a bullpen we can trust. When it’s crunch time he’s going to be out there and he makes quality pitches.”
Traverse City starter Scott Dunn improved to 14-0 with the victory. Dunn scattered eight hits over seven innings, before turning the game over to the bullpen. Matt Miller worked one inning before Capito closed it out.
Gateway (45-31) trailed 4-0 early and 5-1 through six innings, but the Grizzlies scored single runs in each of the last three innings to make it close. They collected four doubles in those three frames and were aided by an error in right field by Matt Howard, who had a ball pop out of his glove as he tracked down a long fly ball.
“The best team in their division, right?” asked Capito. “They’ve got a little fight in them. They’re pretty good.”
Traverse City broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the third with four runs on four hits. Chase Burch slugged a two-run double, Vargas had a RBI single and Howard and Jeremy Banks also singled. Ryan Still drew one of four walks in the game, while Sean Gusrang had an RBI groundout. The Beach Bums scratched out additional runs in the fifth — Vargas was hit in the head by a pitch, then scored on Gusrang’s two-out single — and in the eighth, when Howard drove home Banks, who reached safely on a fielder’s choice.
Edison Alvarez (0-2) started and took the loss for Gateway. He was followed by four other pitchers. They combined to allow eight hits, six walks and struck out five.
With the win Traverse City (45-30) moved into a tie with Schaumburg for the best overall record in the Frontier League. It also gave the Beach Bums the season series win over Gateway. Traverse City holds a two-game lead over Lake Erie in its division.
“Every game matters and our guys know that. I’m pretty sure Gateway does, too,” said Langbehn. “Crucial win for us, though in an event that it comes down to the tiebreaker with these guys for a wild-card spot, despite being in opposite divisions. We could still wind up fighting for a wild-card spot.
“It’s crucial to get these wins. (The season) is dwindling quickly. It’s going to be a fight. We’ve got a tough road ahead of us and so does everybody else.”
Traverse City opens a three-game series with the Frontier Greys tonight at Wuerfel Park.