TRAVERSE CITY —
David Deminsky got a good night’s sleep Thursday.
And after Traverse City’s 9-3 victory over Lake Erie, the Crushers are on the verge of taking an off-season nap.
Deminsky was left behind when Traverse City traveled to Rockford for a three-game road trip. Manager Gregg Langbehn knew it would be Deminsky’s turn in the rotation for the important opener of a series against Lake Erie that will determine who goes to the Frontier League playoffs. The TC win forces Lake Erie to have to win the last two games of the series to overtake the Beach Bums for the league’s final playoff spot.
Staying back saved him a long bus trip back from western Illinois the night before his start.
“I wanted to drive there initially,” Deminsky said, “and drive back Thursday morning after the second game of the series, but (Langbehn) said, ‘Just stay back.’”
Fully rested, Deminsky went 6.2 innings and gave up seven hits, three runs, one walk with three strikeouts on 107 pitches to notch his second straight victory in Traverse City’s string of winning nine of 10 games down the stretch.
“To be honest, I didn’t sleep well on the bus (Thursday),” fellow TC starting pitcher David Nathanson said. “I didn’t sleep well on the bus at all. If it was me, I would have done the same thing do get some sleep. We needed him ready to go.”
And that’s exactly what happened.
“I got a real good night’s sleep,” Deminsky said. “It was definitely an experience. I’ve never done that before. I felt a little bad about it. I was like, ‘Should I do this?’ The guys were giving me crap when they got back. ‘Way to go. You didn’t even come.’ I just shook my head and said, “I got my work in here.’ … I listened to them all on the radio and got to hear the guys hit. When you hear them dropping home runs all the time, you know you’ve got some protection.”
The Beach Bums continued in support of Deminsky, as Chase Burch, Jose Vargas and J.T. Hall each went deep.
“The guys came out swinging,” Deminsky said. “They are red-hot right now. I can’t believe it.”
Burch especially has been on fire lately.
His first-inning shot was his fourth home run in a span of six at-bats.
In late July, Burch missed a series when both of his grandparents died in the same week.
He said it took him awhile to recover, but in the last several weeks, he’s made a big surge into the home-run-hitting slugger that was one of the league’s more feared hitters last year.
“Being able to go home and finally get some piece of mind a little bit and be with my family, really helped ease a lot of pain,” Burch said. “Still when I first got back, I was hurting. And about a week or two afterward, I was able to put it behind me and play for them a little more.”
His average had dipped into the low .200s, but is now up to .263.
Traverse City’s lead-off hitter reached safely for the first four innings -- and ended up scoring each time.
Zack Pace worked a nine-pitch walk and then Chase Burch didn’t waste much time, blasting an 0-2 pitch for a line-drive home run over the left-field fence and a 2-0 lead. It was Burch’s fourth home run in a span of six at-bats after belting three Thursday.
Tom Zebroski led off the second with a single up the middle and came all the way around to score when Jeff Flagg split the outfield gap for a long double to right-center.
Burch led off the third with a walk and came around on a Jose Vargas home run that landed in almost the same spot as Burch’s two innings before.
Stephen Shults and Chris Kay greeted new Lake Erie pitcher Randy Sturgill with singles to start off the fourth. Burch was intentionally walked to load the bases, and J.T. Hall’s chopper over the first baseman’s head brought in two more runs for a sizable 7-0 lead.
With none out in the top of the sixth, Crushers manager John Massarelli was tossed by home plate umpire Bruce Doane. After someone in the Lake Erie dugout complained about the game lasting “three and a half hours” because of a small strike zone, Doane warned Massarelli by telling him, “I don’t want to hear another word about balls and strikes.” Evidently he did, because it didn’t take Doane long to give Massarelli the heave-ho, to the approval of the vocal Beach Bums’ crowd.
Ex-Crushers All-Star closer Jeff Cinadr came on for TC to get the final out of the seventh.
Hall skied a solo home run in the seventh to right field, and Pace doubled in Shults in the eighth. Cinadr finished off the game, going the final innings and not allowing a run against the team that released him earlier this year.
Deminsky pitches TC to 9-3 win
TRAVERSE CITY —
David Deminsky got a good night’s sleep Thursday.
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