BY DENNIS CHASE
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Johnny Omahen continues to turn his season around.
The Traverse City righthander tossed a two-hitter, retiring the last 14 batters he faced, in pitching the Beach Bums to a 4-1 Frontier League win over Florence on Monday night at Wuerfel Park.
Omahen, 5-6 overall, improved to 5-3 with a 2.09 ERA in his last nine outings. The only run he allowed Monday was unearned.
“I’m just trying to build off the last few outings I’ve had,” he said. “I was just trying to pound the zone, get ahead of the hitters and trust my stuff to get them out.”
Omahen struck out four and walked two in silencing a Freedom lineup that produced 10 runs on Sunday night.
“Johnny was on tonight,” shortstop Taylor Wrenn said. “He had his two-seam working low. When he’s on, he’s a hard guy to hit. His fastball sneaks up on guys.”
Omahen, who was touching 90 mph with his fastball on the radar gun, said his change-up was “hit and miss,” but his fastball and slider were working.
“I like to throw two-seam sinkers into righties and get ground balls,” he said. “That’s my goal for efficient innings.”
Efficient would certainly describe his latest outing, a 93-pitch gem.
And he actually had a lead to work with, the first time that’s happened in more than two weeks.
After Florence scored a run in the second on Ryan Still’s throwing error, the Beach Bums responded with three in the third. Two came on Wrenn’s eighth home run of the season. Chase Burch knocked in the other with a single, following a Jose Vargas double.
Wrenn connected on a 3-0 pitch from Florence starter Chuck Weaver.
“I refused to look down at Banger (Beach Bums manager Gregg Langbehn),” Wrenn said. “As I was rounding third, I told him, ‘That’s why I didn’t look at you during the at-bat.’ He said, ‘I wasn’t going to give you the take anyways.’
“I was looking middle in and it was right there. I got a good pitch, put a good swing on it and it got out of the ball park.”
Traverse City added a solo run in the sixth when Still walked and Scott Woodward belted an RBI double off the fence in right, just missing his second homer in as many nights.
Chris Squires recorded the final six outs to earn his second save.
The win enabled Traverse City to regain its three-game cushion over the Freedom in the East Division. The Beach Bums are 38-24, Florence 35-27.
The teams conclude the three-game set tonight with Jake Sabol (7-4, 2.66) pitching for Traverse City, Dan Jensen (5-3, 3.63) for Florence.