BY DENNIS CHASE
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — First, Traverse City lost its All-Star shortstop Thursday afternoon.
Then, the Beach Bums lost for the second time in two nights as the Frontier Greys posted a 9-5 Frontier League win at Wuerfel Park.
Just hours before the first pitch, the Beach Bums announced that the Texas Rangers had purchased Taylor Wrenn’s contract. The 23-year-old had been a catalyst for the East Division-leading Beach Bums, hitting .288 with eight home runs and 43 RBIs.
"We're happy for Taylor," manager Gregg Langbehn said. "That's what it's all about. We've got guys that are going to step in. No excuses."
Shortstop wasn't the only hole on the left side of the infield that Langbehn needed to fill Thursday night. Third baseman Jose Vargas suffered a leg injury in Wednesday's game and watched from the bench.
"It will be a few days (before he plays)," Langbehn said.
The Greys struck early as Traverse City saw its lead drop to two games over Florence. The Greys scored five runs in the second and four in the third. Eight of those runs were charged to starter Jacob Clem.
Mark Micowski carried the big stick. He went 3-for-4 with a walk, a stolen base, two RBIs and two runs scored. Micowski belted a two-run home run in the second to wipe out a 1-0 Traverse City lead. The lefthander is now 16-for-30 against Beach Bums pitching this season with five doubles, two triples and a home run.
He had ample help in the lineup. Esteban Meletiche contributed a two-run triple in the second while J.J. Muse keyed the four-run outburst in the third with a two-run double.
"If you don't pitch well it doesn't matter what kind of offense you have," Langbehn said. "You've got to be able to pitch."
The Beach Bums outhit the Greys 14-11, but stranded 14 runners — eight in scoring position.
"I've said it for years, it's about producing runs and we didn't do that," Langbehn said. "We had opportunities. We left 14 guys on and you can't do that. If you don't pitch well, and you leave that many on, you're not going to win."
The Beach Bums had some bright sports.
Zach Kometani, whose bat has come alive, went 4-for-4 with a walk. He doubled in a run in the first. Rightfielder Matt Howard added three hits and catcher Marcus Nidiffer two, including a solo home run in the eighth.
Relief pitcher Ben Rawding allowed one run in 4.2 innings while Burny Mitchem followed by tossing two shutout frames.
Even though Rawding and Mitchem kept the Greys in check, the deficit was too big to overcome.
For Clem, now 5-6, it was his second rough outing in a row. He surrendered seven runs — six earned — in four innings last Saturday in a 7-2 loss at Rockford.
Joe Zeller pitched six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits, in registering the win.
As for Wrenn, this will be his second stint in affiliated ball. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds organization after the 2011 draft. He played 35 games with the Billings Mustangs in the Pioneer League in 2012 and then moved up to Single-A with the Dayton Dragons.
Langbehn said the Beach Bums are "working on" signing a replacement.
The Beach Bums and Greys conclude their three-game set tonight. Scott Dunn (11-0) will pitch for Traverse City, Matt Costello for the Greys.