TRAVERSE CITY — Brooks Carey can’t remember starting out a Wuerfel Park series with a victory.
The Normal CornBelters’ manager — a five-year Frontier League veteran — was finally able to do that Friday, as his squad posted a 6-1 victory over Traverse City that was a one-run game for the first six innings.
“I’ve been coming here for five years, and I can’t remember winning the first game up here,” Carey said. “I don’t remember winning the first game of a series here. It takes a bit of the pressure off.”
The CornBelters (26-22) hit their league-leading season average of six runs a game right on the head, but most of it came in the final three frames.
TC starter Ian MacDougall had Normal off kilter much of the night, striking out a season-high four in 6.2 innings and giving up three runs (two earned), seven hits and two walks in a pitching battle with fellow left-hander Matt Packer.
“Six innings could be the longest we’ve been shut out,” Carey said. “Maybe one other time.
“MacDougall threw really good, too. It was a good, tight game with two sharp lefties. Packer, he’s not the hardest thrower int he world — neither is MacDougall — but they spot the ball around and have good breaking balls.”
Packer picked up the win, going seven frames with two walks, seven hits and four strikeouts — nearly identical to MacDougall’s line.
“We just didn’t do anything to support him offensively,” Beach Bums manager Dan Rohn said. “We’re really struggling right now with the bats. We’re just not getting any big hits when we need them. We had runners on second or third in three of the first five innings, and somebody needs to step up and get a hit for us.”