TRAVERSE CITY — The Traverse City Beach Bums were seven outs away from their second-ever trip to the Frontier League Championship Series on Wednesday.
Then Lake Erie’s bats emerged from its postseason slumber.
The Crushers shut out in two of the first three games of the Divisional Series, torched the Beach Bums bullpen for 12 runs in the last three innings to beat Traverse City 13-3 in Game 4 at Wuerfel Park.
It was a wild turn of events for a game in which the Beach Bums seemed to have total control, leading 3-1 after a solid outing from starter Jake Sabol, who scattered six hits and struck out seven in six innings.
“I don’t think we’ve put up 13 runs in the last month all together,” said Lake Erie manager Jeff Isom, laughing. “Guys responded. We ended up getting that big hit from Andrew Davis and things kept snowballing. They say hitting is contagious. Guys jumped on that bandwagon and they started to hit the ball. Good timing for that.”
Good timing indeed.
Chris Squires relieved Sabol in the seventh, and after Squires allowed a lead-off double to Max Casper, he retired the next two batters. But before he could get out of the inning Squires walked Seth Granger and allowed an RBI single to Daniel Bowman that made it a one-run game. Traverse City brought in left-handed closer Nick Capito to try and quell the rally, but Capito walked Anderson Hidalgo to load the bases and Davis followed with a grand slam that gave Lake Erie a 6-3 advantage — its first lead since its Game 2 victory.
Capito got out of the inning two batters later, but experienced more trouble in the eighth when he allowed four more runs, coming on two-run homers from Craig Hertler and Bowman.